Americans and Canadians Fight Over Washington Costco

A Facebook page demanding 'Americans-only' opening hours at the local big-box retailer highlights a growing conflict between U.S. and Canadian shoppers.

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Mike Blake / Reuters

This Costco warehouse scene is the opposite of what shoppers in Bellingham, Wash., are experiencing.

Folks in Whatcom County are calling it an invasion. Here in the far northwest corner of Washington state, just across the border from  Vancouver, B.C., locals are complaining that Canadians are coming south in droves to shop at the local big-box discount stores. Flush with newly powerful Canadian dollars, they’re clogging checkout lines, blocking aisles and taking up parking spots  at the Bellingham, Wash., Costco, filling the overcrowded store to capacity with frustrated shoppers from both countries.

Costco, in an effort to control a Canadian-led run on gasoline, milk and a variety of other products that are currently drastically cheaper in the U.S. than Canada, has had to hire off-duty police officers to keep the peace in the parking lot as drivers sometimes literally fight for the few empty spots.

(PHOTOS: The Vancouver Winter Olympics)

Inevitably, some Washingtonians are calling for Costco to institute a kind of immigration reform, starting a Facebook page calling for American-only hours. With over 3,000 “likes” so far, the page is catching on, even if Costco officials, some locals and (certainly) Canadian shoppers aren’t keen on the idea.

Costco has hired more workers and changed store hours to help ease the  crush, officials tell CBS News. But lines are still extremely long, with the wait to fuel up at the store’s gas pumps routinely more than 30 minutes, as Canadians fill up not only their vehicle’s gasoline tank but also various oversized containers stashed in the trunk for later use. (Gasoline in British Columbia, according to the price-tracking website, averages nearly $5 a gallon, compared to $3.89 a gallon over the border in Washington.)

Milk runs are common too. A popular video shows 172 gallons of milk gobbled up in less than a minute. Costco workers didn’t even bother loading the containers it into coolers, simply dropping the pallets on the newly created dairy room floor.

While some shoppers are frustrated with what they see as the invading neighbors from B.C., others point out that the Canadians are coming over the border to spend money, which boosts the local economy.

Ken Oplinger, president of Whatcom county’s chamber of commerce, says he has done what he can to increase cross-border shopping, not limit it.

Costco says it won’t consider starting American-only shopping hours, but the Washington-based company is in a highly publicized search to find a spot to build a larger store, one that can accommodate both Americans and Canadians. Who says this continent isn’t big enough for the both of us?

MORE: Is Canada’s Plastic Money Actually Melting?


Just stumbled upon this oldish article.  Interesting - Costco is a membership store, meaning you have to pay for the privilege of spending money there.  Maybe I'll understand that sometime, but have never shopped there.  I suppose it could be worth paying for the membership for buying milk alone, but maybe that membership is about more than just a fee and privacy is invaded by the application.  Can't help but wonder about that.  And I am not in Canada, but in the USA where some people shop at stores that don't require an "elitist" fee to shop there.

Kelly Lexus Johnson
Kelly Lexus Johnson

honestly i think its ridiculous that two strong allied nations are hating against each other.North America , canadians are Americans as well , you stupid idiots. If the people in Bellingham or whatever the heck that city is called , has a problem , then , canadians shouldnt help boost their economy , let them suffer , because they cant cope with a crowded store. America already has a lot of broken states , and need the boost but hey , what ever , their loss.

Tally Calvert
Tally Calvert

dumbasses, Canada IS in NORTH America, duh!  So Canadians ARE Americans.  Duh!  And they are SPENDING money which helps the economy, I'm sure more than a few stop at other stores, go out to eat, etc. etc. 

Jean-Pierre Cote
Jean-Pierre Cote

to what I understand  3000 Person sing the Like on this Facebook  page  there is more then 80,000 person in Bellingham  it is far from a majority  felling this way, I do not thing it is a big matter to follow  for the rudeness and poor parking Practice ... I see it as a trend  everywhere it is sad  but it is the Me generation, I am in Whistler every weekend and all the big  vehicle with Washington plate  taking two parking stall is very common there is good and bad every where we go.

I will not stop Shopping in the US  not only for the good value but because I really like Americans as equal as I like Canadians 

John Forsthoffer
John Forsthoffer

They will probably just open another Costco down the street. I don't think Costco wants to lose all that business.


As much as some people do like to whine, Membership is

Membership and I hope all those wise decision making people at the COSTCO

administrative level actually figure out how to deal with this temporary dilemma:

such as more frequent orders and more frequent deliveries to replenish those empty

shelf consumables including the gasoline. 

What would happen if there were an actual shortage or God help-us rationing?  If those COSTCO administrative folks actually

figure the situation out for themselves and implement effective change then

perhaps they deserve to be elected to the United States Congress; God knows we

have been putting up with much less for quite a long time now and we keep re-electing

them.  During each future visit to

COSTCO, I would like to see clean shopping baskets free from all of the beverage

and food sampling paper-debris discarded by Membership shoppers who are less

than thoughtful or hygienic.  Who should

ultimately be responsible for collecting and dispensing clean shopping baskets?

 I certainly hope the COSTCO

administrative people read about this complaint once again, because all other previous

complaints have gone completely un-noticed. 

I closing, I am completely empathetic for all those poor Americans being

invaded by our neighbors to the north of Washington State because as a resident

of the great State of California we have been invaded by our neighbors to the

south for quite some time now.   Does any

of this have to do with the “New World Order” that our former 41st Republican

President, George Herbert Walker Bush was trying to tell us about?


I grew up in a border town, we used to drive to Canada to do the same bulk shopping when I was younger when the Canadian dollar dropped.  Our town used to encourage Canadian shoppers as much as possible to boost the local economy.  I don't think the people that are complaining realize how much they could loose should they shut out the extra money to the area.  Sure it's frustrating  but how many locals would costco have to lay-off if patronage dropped? 


I can see them fight for gallon milk it must be as bad as the Asian woman in LA fighting for bus seat


Nope they will not.  They can't part of the other issue that is not mentioned in this article is the City of Bellingham Limit on Big box stores.  They limit the size the store can be. 

"An individual retail establishment, including but not limited to membership warehouse clubs, discount stores, specialized product stores and department stores, shall not exceed 90,000 square feet of gross floor area. This restriction shall apply in all zones, including all General Use Types and Use Qualifiers. If this Section conflicts with any other provisions of this Title, this Section shall prevail.


like Justin said I'm blown away that people able to make $8406 in four weeks on the network. did you see this(Click on menu Home)