CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Pat Laplante barely had time to unpack from her latest cross-border shopping trip before hopping on another bus. A week after hitting the outlets in North Conway, she was heading from her home in Canada to northern Maine in search of Black Friday deals.
“I never have a list, never,” she said. “No matter how many times you go, you keep saying to yourself, ‘I don’t need anything, I’m not going to buy anything.’ That’s a joke. My chances of coming home with nothing are nil.”
Laplante, a retired telephone company worker from Halifax, Nova Scotia, often tags along with a friend who runs a tour bus company catering to shoppers. Last week, she was one of 50 women who snapped up jeans, hooded sweatshirts and sneakers at prices well below those at home.
“People say, ‘I don’t understand why don’t you shop in your own country.’” she said. “I say, give me the deals and I might think about it. But it’s not going to happen.”
New Hampshire has long been a shopping destination because it has no sales tax, but there’s a new twist this holiday shopping season: Since June, Canadian visitors shopping here have been able to return home with more duty-free goods thanks to increases in the duty-free allowances.
In June, the duty-free limit increased to $200 for those staying longer than 24 hours and to $800 for stays longer than 48 hours. The previous limits were $50 for overnight trips, $400 for trips of two to seven days and $750 for trips of more than a week.
Hoping to capitalize on the changes this weekend, The Bartlett Inn Bed and Breakfast in Bartlett offered a shopping package that included coupons for the Settler’s Green outlet center in North Conway, a discount on room rates and “cookies and hot cider to enjoy while you wrap presents by the fire.”