A Canadian economist and representatives of a company that offers an economic development tool to serve Canadian customers told representatives of Havre businesses some ways they can increase the sales they can make to Canadian shoppers — including making it easier for them to spend their money.
Donna Townley, instructor with the Department of Economics at the University of Lethbridge, said at a Havre Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event in Havre today that a number of factors — including that they like to come to and shop in Montana — are bringing Canadians from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the state.
Townley said Havre can tap into a market of 100,000 Canadians from Medicine Hat, Alberta, to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, a group of people whose average family income is double the average family income of Montanans.
She said that, whatever the reason they are coming down, one thing is key to getting them to shop, and to come back in future trips: making them welcome. Being Canada-friendly is the key to getting Canadian business, and Havre needs to get the message out that it is Canada-friendly, Townley said.
“Now, it’s up to you to decide how much of that Canadian money you want in your till,” she said.
Deborah Coulson of Whitefish-based Nxgen said her company has an economic development tool that can help with that.
Nxgen has a registered-trademark program, Canada Certified™, in which businesses gain the ability to both accept Canadian debit cards — which many U.S. businesses cannot accept — and Dynamic Currency Conversion that allows a Canadian customer to see the cost in Canadian currency and also provides a rebate to the retailer.
The increase in business in Canadian traffic will quickly pay for the conversion, which also includes a branding element with a “Canada Certified™” decal for the window of the business and reduced rates for across-the-border advertising.
Coulson quoted an unsolicited comment from a business using the program, who said it “pays for itself.“