Border Town Life: It’s Quirky

“Why are there so many mailing stores in Blaine?”

Recently I was sitting in a café in Blaine, Washington and the couple next to me asked if I’m local. I’m originally from Australia, so I don’t get asked that often. They had a question only a Blaine local could answer: why are there so many postage and mail delivery stores in Blaine?

That got me thinking about the other things that are unique to living in a border town. It is a little quirky, with things you don’t think about living elsewhere.

Border-Town-Life-United-States-America-Canada-Bianca-Mass-Consternation-Sign-1Mixed Speed Limits

I admit this sign confused me at first. You get to choose your speed limit? Oh, it’s both miles and kilometers. I understand why so many get speeding fines on this road. It’s useful if you stop and read the sign.


Border-Town-Life-United-States-America-Canada-Bianca-Mass-Consternation-3How many other cities encourage cash transactions in different currencies? It’s normal here to see signs advertising the conversion rate from Canadian to US dollars, and not just in banks. I’ve seen it in jewelers in the mall and here’s one as a gas/petrol station, also selling in liters (it’s usually gallons).

Border-Town-Life-United-States-America-Canada-Bianca-Mass-Consternation-11Restaurant Ads from a Different Country

Ooh, check out this new restaurant. Let’s go. Do you have your passport? This restaurant is closer to Blaine than Bellingham is, but does require a border crossing. It’s just normal. I’ve been asked if I have leftovers to declare after my lunches in Canada.

Security and Border Control

Don’t bother misbehaving because security cameras and border patrol are everywhere. Sure, they don’t have jurisdiction over most things, but they know the people who do. Except, of course, if you’re digging a tunnel and smuggling Kinder Surprise eggs into the United States.

Barbed wire fences, cameras EVERYWHERE, remote monitored access gate. It’s a Border Patrol office. I wasn’t getting closer for a better photo.

Border-Town-Life-United-States-America-Canada-Bianca-Mass-Consternation-4Customs Information

Does your local supermarket let you know international import rules? On the border they do. I imagine how many times people tried returning melted ice-cream before this sign went up.

Postage and Mail Delivery Stores

Back to the original question. Yes, there are LOTS of mailing stores on the border. It’s like Seattle with Starbucks: one on every corner. Perhaps the only truthful thing Trump has said was about Canadians buying American goods and sneaking them across the border. It’s an industry having mail order items delivered to a border town address and then carried into Canada. US prices tend to be lower, with lower delivery costs, and lower taxes and duties.


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Photo by Wojtek Witkowski on Unsplash

More about Bianca

Bianca's a nerdy, book worm who is constantly curious and appreciates being alive while the internet exists. During the day, she's a content writer for a huge multinational tech company. The rest of the time she's reading, and running, and bike riding, and sipping coffee, and taking photos around Melbourne, Australia.

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