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Not a 'stampede,' but Canadian shoppers slowly return to Grand Forks

After nearly 2 years of not being able to head south into the United States, Canadians can finally cross the land border.

GRAND FORKS — Before the coronavirus pandemic, Renae Miller visited Grand Forks every two weeks.

"I was thinking it was way beyond time that they opened the border," said the resident of Altona, Manitoba.

It couldn't come at a better time for new Grand Forks business owner Ashley Beland, who opened Dakota Styles Boutqiue downtown last month. However, she's been part of the local retail scene for more than a decade.

"They really do bring a lot of traffic and really do boost our economy," said Beland.

That's why the the Greater Grand Forks Visitors Bureau has launched a massive advertising campaign in Manitoba.

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"I don't think we are going to see a stampede of Canadian visitors in a day or two, but over time we will see more and more," said Julie Rygg, executive director of the Greater Grand Forks Visitors Bureau.

The visitors bureau said there have not been any recent studies done to calculate how many Canadians visit Grand Forks each year and how much money they pump into the economy, so the economic impact of the pandemic is unknown.

"Survey after survey has shown that Canadians like to stay for that long weekend getaway, so they are shopping while they are here, eating out, even grocery shopping," explained Rygg. "So they are spending quite a bit of money."

Canadians must show proof they are fully vaccinated to enter the U.S. That's not a big problem for people in Manitoba, where 73% of residents meet that requirement.

The Greater Grand Forks Visitors Bureau is regularly updating its website for Canadians so they are up to speed on the regulations.

The issue is, to get back into Canada, residents must have a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours. Free rapid tests in the U.S. are not accepted, and tests in Canada cost well over $100.

"If you are doubled-vaxxed, you should not have to get the test. It's just a money grab," said Miller.

Regardless, Miller said she is glad she can see her stepkids again and take advantage of the good deals in Grand Forks.

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"Everybody comes here all the time. It's a very common place for us Canadians," Miller said.

Related Topics: GRAND FORKS
Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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