Ryden’s Border Store, Grand Portage, MN

When you get close to the border, there’s usually a cluster full of shops that cater to tourists. These shops also serve people looking for a deal. From my experience, it’s always cheaper to buy things on the southern side of the border.

For the Mexican border, they cluster liquor stores immediately on the Mexican side. That’s where I get my cheap liquor, often just on a lunch break. For the Canadian border, there are stores selling cheaper gas. They also sell anything that is cheaper in the US than Canada. Some places also provide mailing services.

Ryden’s Border Store is such a place. It is nestled right off the border on the US side of the Pigeon River crossing. They sell much cheaper gas. In fact, gas is about half the price in the US as it is in Canada. Other things are much cheaper due to the lower sales tax. Ontario’s HST is 13% so that can add up quickly.

Another thing Ryden’s provides is mailing services. It is expensive to ship something directly to Canada. There’s a lot of red tape and hassle with Customs. This adds a lot of extra time and cost to getting something shipped to Canada.

To get around this hassle and cost, Ryden’s will receive a package on behalf of someone. They are a US-based address, so something can be ordered off of Amazon and be shipped still in the US. People from Thunder Bay will order stuff online, have it shipped to Ryden’s, and then make a 40 mile (64 kilometer) trip down to the US to pick it up. They will also fill up on gas and buy the things in the US that are much more expensive in Canada. I am also told Ryden’s jerky is really good.

A benefit of Canadians doing this is they save a lot of money. If they stay in the US for a certain amount of time, they can bring back around $700 worth of stuff duty-free. The US is very similar in this regards in terms of bringing stuff back from Mexico.

On my way back from Thunder Bay, I decided to stop at Ryden’s Border Store. I checked the place out and could definitely tell I was in the US again. Ryden’s has been around a while and I can see they provide a valuable service to many Canadians. Many of my Canadian friends speak very highly of Ryden’s and go there often.

I also bought some of their beef jerky and can tell you it was pretty good overall! It is made by Jack Link’s for them and is kippered. It has a slight sweet taste to it and is tender. I pretty much lived on it as I drove back down to Texas.

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