RadioShack goes Canada Certified
Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson
Hi-Line RadioShack owner Brian Jenkins on Thursday afternoon stands next to the Canada Certified sticker in front of the store. Jenkins said the business now has a new debit card reader, which was installed May 11, that will now allow Canadians to use their Interac PIN debit cards at the store, making RadioShack the first Havre business to be Canada Certified.
Just weeks after a presentation about a program making it easier for Canadians to shop in Havre and across the Northern Tier, the first local business has gone Canada Certified and saw an immediate impact.
Brian Jenkins, owner of Hi-Line RadioShack in the Holiday Village Mall, said his company began last Friday taking Canadian Interac personal identification number debit cards and providing the totals both in Canadian and American currency, and is planning to make a big splash this weekend with Canadians down for Victoria Day, a national holiday to the north of Havre, with balloons up and more activities planned.
"We had some funky little T-shirts made up that we'll be wearing all weekend, kind of in celebration, " Jenkins said Thursday. "We're kind of boasting that we were the first one. "
Deborah Coulson of Nxgen, the Whitefish company that is the architect of the Canada Certified program, said the benefits to RadioShack were immediate.
Jenkins, she said, "had his first Canadian PIN debit sale within two minutes of becoming Canada Certified. It was exciting. "
The program, a joint economic development initiative between Nxgen and local chambers of commerce, deals with a major problem in Canadian sales.
Generally, Canadian PIN debit cards, the most-preferred way of paying for transactions by Canadians, cannot be processed in U. S. stores.
Nxgen's system allows companies to take the Canadian cards, and provides the totals on the receipts in both forms of currency.
The system also provides savings to both the merchant and the customer, with the debit cards generally charging a lower fee than credit cards and the currency conversion system also providing a rebate.
Jenkins said he is issuing a challenge to the rest of the Havre merchants and specifically the mall merchants association to make the mall, and the town, the first to become fully Canada Certified in the country.
He has been talking to other merchants since Coulson and Anne Britz of Nxgen gave a presentation about Canada Certified in Havre May 4.
"We talked about, on the north side (of town), how cool it would be to have that Canada Certified on a billboard, to say, 'Welcome to Havre, we appreciate your business, we are Canada Certified, '" he said.
He said he is taking an extra step — the RadioShack point-of-sale software is not meshing with the Nxgen program, and while that is being worked out, he set up a separate system to provide the service.
"That's how important it was for me, " he said. "We will just have to run it in separate terminal until the problems are resolved. "
Coulson, who said Nxgen has been contacted by the Holiday Village Mall Merchants Association, said the conversion generally is very quick.
"Once the paperwork is under way, a matter of days, " she said.
Every merchant's situation is unique, she said, but the initial cost of conversion is typically $89 to a few hundred dollars.
How fast that and the monthly charge are made up by reduced fees and increased fees also varies from merchant to merchant, but Nxgen has a computerized tool merchants can use to figure out the break-even point.
She said people could contact Jenkins to find out how the program is working, and can call her at (406) 730-7034 or email Britz at [email protected] for more information about the program.
Jenkins said he hopes to make that break-even point this weekend, and to bring more Havre merchants into the program, which benefits both Canadian visitors and the local economy.
"I think it's very vital to Havre's economy that people jump on board with this, " he said.
Coulson said the benefits make the Nxgen employees excited about being part of the economic development initiative. The program, which kicked off the beginning of this year, is growing rapidly, with calls from the Northern Tier coming on an almost-daily basis.
"It's a rocketship kind of initiative that is benefiting merchants, is benefiting Canadian consumers, and it is benefiting economic development for markets across the (United States), and that's what makes it exciting, " she said.