Nick Pitillo, a local restaurateur and longtime resident, said business was better over the Columbus Day weekend, especially compared to the dark days of 2020, but was still down around 15 %.
“We had a great week, but you could definitely feel their absence,” he said, adding that Ellicottville had also seen many Canadians sell their property during the pandemic. “We can’t wait to see everyone again. “
Canadians have long enjoyed shopping in the United States, where they avoid federal sales taxes imposed by the Canadian government. And on Wednesday, retailers in New York seemed excited that those shoppers could soon be returning to the other side of the border. The same is true of the executives of several tribal casinos that dot western New York and the North Country, including the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, where gambling has been severely affected by the shortage of Canadian players.
At the Walden Galleria, a huge mall just east of Buffalo just off the New York Thruway, officials said retailers were already planning “Welcome Canadians!” Sales.
“Our Canadian customers have always been an important part of our business,” said Stephen J. Congel, managing director of the mall’s parent company, Pyramid Management Group. “We are therefore delighted to welcome our dear neighbors from the North to the country.”
On Lake Champlain, meanwhile, Norman Lague, the owner of Lakeside Coffee in Rouses Point, NY, which is on the border, said that while there was a silver lining to the 19-month closure, it was was that it had forced him and other business owners to develop deeper connections with their own communities.
“We feel stronger,” said Mr. Lague, a former border patrol officer.
That said, he also said he can’t wait to see more Canadian boats and cars sitting outside his lakeside cafe.
“It’s going to be nice to see faces that we haven’t seen,” he said.