Life, liberty, and... the pursuit of unfettered access to Costco?
That's a right some residents in Bellingham, Wash., are lobbying for after droves of Canadians began flooding the Costco there, taking advantage of the Canadian dollar's buying power relative to the US currency.
According to the Daily Mail, the financial disparity means that Canadians can easily drive across the border (30 miles away), to stock up on goods that are more expensive back home -- namely cheap milk and fuel.
KIRO reports that Bellingham police have been called in to assist with crowd control as the store sells out of two semi-trucks full of milk every day.
Why the rush for milk? Dairy Farmers Of Canada, a trade group there, notes that Canadian dairy farmers don't receive any government subsidies to produce milk. Meanwhile, just across the border, US farmers do receive a subsidy. The result, speculates KIRO, means that milk costs more in Canada than it does in America.
The drive for milk in Bellingham has even led to the creation of a Facebook page, with over 2,000 "likes" as of this writing, urging Costco to limit Canadian access at certain times.
Titled "Bellingham Costco needs a special time just for Americans," the page features photos of Canadians double-parked in the Costco lot, extremely long check-out lines and videos of Canadians buying milk.
Lest you worry the American-only shopping request has xenophobic undertones, the page's administrator cautions visitors to see the root of the problem:
Bellingham has laws that keep big box companies from expanding. The overcrowding in this small slow paced town has agitated people. The people are only looking at the surface and pointing fingers at our beloved Canadians. Yes there are crazy stories about the rudeness, we are a small town with guests that have big city attitudes. It also doesn't help when have an over-exuberant amount of people in one place. So, the surface problem is overcrowding and the root problem is expansion.
But the crush of Canadians is not all bad: "In the last two years, our sales tax generation has doubled or tripled the pace in the rest of the state," Ken Oplinger, president of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce, told the CBC.
"And its almost entirely because of the Canadians coming south."
How do you ease the congestion? Officials in Bellingham have approached Costco about the possibility of building a larger store elsewhere in the area, but the Bellingham Herald notes that the plan doesn't have a timeline associated with it. In the meantime, shoppers may have to head elsewhere for a more relaxed milk-purchasing environment.
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