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City merchants believe Canadian dollar’s dip no cause for alarm

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The Canadian dollar’s dip to 95 cents against the U.S. dollar has no city merchants panicking at the prospect of a decrease in shoppers from across the border.

The lowest drop in the Canadian dollar’s value since November 2011 isn’t enough to dent the allure of practically everything from gasoline to groceries and restaurant meals, not to mention sales taxes being far less expensive here, they say.

“A good portion of our customers are Canadian,” said Bonnie M. Griffith, co-owner of Cobblestone Gifts, 1409 Ford St., Ogdensburg. “I don think it’ll hurt at all.”

Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandra M. Porter is likewise not worried about it.

“I don’t think it’s going to have any measurable effect,” she said. “Our prices are very attractive.”

And with Ontario’s sales tax at 13 percent, it isn’t as if the pending increase of St. Lawrence County’s combined county and state sales tax from 7 percent to 8 percent is going to scare off Canadian shoppers.

“It’s not enough,” Ms. Porter said.

The state Legislature recently granted permission for the county to raise its 3 percent sales tax to 4 percent, a change that is expected to take effect early next year. The chamber’s upcoming annual North Country Wine, Beer and Festival on Aug. 10 and 11 at the Richard G. Lockwood Civic Center has been a popular draw for Canadian shoppers. Ms. Porter said she expects that to hold true this year.

At Northwoods Furniture and Art Gallery, Brandon C. Baxter said he doesn’t believe that the dip in the Canadian dollar will be bad for business.

“Five cents isn’t that big of a deal,” he said.

Laurel Lee Roethel, whose businesses at 1801 Ford St. include River Rat Design and a FedEx package shipping center franchise, said she caters to “a lot” of Canadian shoppers. She sees no weakness in the 95-cent Canadian dollar because it will still pay for more here than it will at full value at home.

“They’ll still shop a lot because it’s considerably cheaper here,” Ms. Roethel said. “And people should welcome them shopping over here.”

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