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Business not as usual in the Sault amid Covid-19

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Sault Ste Marie Michigan and Sault Ste Marie Ontario share a lot. Their name, the locks, and especially business. Now with the border closed to non-essential travel, business has changed in both cities.

For many residents in the Sault, cross border shopping is part of everyday life. Now that cross border shopping is cut off, on the Michigan side, some retailers are taking a hit.


Tony Haller is the executive director of the Sault area chamber of commerce on the Michigan side, he said things like cheaper prices and greater variety is what attracts Canadians to retailers on the Michigan side of the border, but right now none of that matters.


“Sault Ste Marie Canada has around 80,000 people over there, and so we depend on them coming over here to buy their gas, go to restaurants and do their shopping over here, and since the borders have been closed we haven’t had that opportunity to have those people come over here,” explained Haller.


He said right now a lot of retailers are hurting, there is increased traffic to some businesses from downstate, but it doesn't quite make up for the Canadian business they would usually see.


Rory Ring is the CEO of the chamber of commerce in Sault Ste Marie Canada, he says for Canadians there's an impact too.


“Obviously as a border community with a long history of Canadians shopping in Sault Michigan, there’s been a significant impact with border closures,” said Ring.


He said some Canadian retailers are seeing more business as a result of Canadians being unable to shop in Michigan, but he said it has also given rise to more online shopping.


Ring said Canadian Sault is losing business because of the border closing through a drop in vacation travel and in restaurant and alcohol sales. Vacationing in the area, he said, is around 80% Americans. He said the reason restaraunts and alcohol is seeing a hit is because 19 and 20 year olds aren't crossing over from the US to take advantage of the lower drinking age of 19 in Ontario.


Recently this week it was announed the US-Canada border would remain closed until at least August 21st.




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