An American Town Fueled by Amazon and Canadians


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Todays SD v Wayfair decision seems very good for Blaine. (Likely doesn’t do much for Cleveland though)Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine says:

      Yeah… that’s a really interesting decision where it looks like the exact opposite of how you would have guessed each justice to vote… with a bonus twist that RBG and the Chief switched bodies.

      I suspect witchcraft.

      On the one hand, I think we’ve caught up to the interwebs and taxation and am favor of companies collecting the taxes… in principle.

      On the other hand, I agree with the liberal justices(!) that it really should be left to congress to define the scope and nature of the law because simply negating the previous decisions doesn’t create good internet commerce law. And possibly (for once) there might even be good interstate commerce reasons to allow for an “internet” tax and/or revenue thresholds and other exemptions etc.

      Not having confidence in congress to ever craft laws might be a valid political concern, but I’m nervous that it is becoming a Supreme Court motivator.Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I went to school, K-12 in Blaine. I walked up and down H Street and rode my bike down Portal Way, when I was old enough, and the weather was nice enough to bike to school sometimes.

    Border arbitrage has always been one pillar of Blaine’s economy. The other being commercial fishing. But the fishing isn’t what it used to be, with the salmon runs being pretty much depleted. APA is gone, and turned into a swank housing development.

    But when I was young, Blaine made a lot of money over the fact that the bars were closed in Canada on Sunday, but not in the US. (This was also good for nearby Point Roberts). Then there was the era of two adult theaters and one adult bookstore – in a town of 3000. Also border arbitrage.

    There were times when differences in gas prices and currency prices meant that new gas stations sprung up in Blaine, and other times when they all closed down, because the local residents would all go to White Rock to fill up.

    I’m aware of a long-standing game company that has it’s official mailing address as a PO Box in Blaine (Columbia Games, which is run by a Canadian).

    Meanwhile, there are the “Duty Free” shops and border brokers in Blaine. They work by delivering the goods to you in Peace Arch Park, across the border, but before you hit Canadian Customs/Immigration

    Blaine is probably the most heavily travelled border crossing on the Northern Border, second to maybe Detroit/Windsor. It’s bigger than Niagara Falls, though. Only a couple ports of entry on the Mexican border, such as Ensenada, and maybe Brownsville, are bigger.

    This particular thing may pass, but there will always be another border arbitrage situation for Borderites (Yes, we were the Blaine HS Borderites, and our colors were orange and black).Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      I enjoyed getting this perspective a lot. I didn’t grow up on the border but I was just talking to someone from near Caribou, Maine yesterday about the whole St Stephen/Calais situation. (Apparently it was a thing in Caribou, too, just no nearby town on the NB side). Not to the same extent as Blaine, but still definitely been a thing as far back as I can remember.

      Dunno if Blaine’s relative size reduces this, or if it was a thing there too, but the St Stephen Calais crossing (and more rural locales along the same stretch) saw a lot of draft resister traffic into Canada during the Vietnam War, as well.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

        I’m sure there was a lot of traffic. I lived there then, too. But I didn’t see anything or hear about it. Going to Canada was the easiest thing in the world then. Just get in a car, and drive up to the border, tell them you’re staying for the afternoon, or a two-week vacation, and you’re in.

        It was a very strange place to grow up in. By most measures, it should have been rural and insular, like neighboring Lynden. But several factors – the border crossing, with Customs and Immigration personnel (and Border Patrol), the Air Force Station, and the resort nature of Birch Bay, made it much more, um, cosmopolitan? Aware of the wider world?

        Not that everybody liked that, but I did. It’s probably how I learned to find people different from me interesting, rather than threatening. That and the example set by my father.Report