Nick Pitillo, a local restaurateur and lifelong resident, said things were doing better on Columbus Day weekend, especially compared to the dark days of 2020, but still lagged about 15 percent.
“We had a great week, but you definitely felt their absence,” he said, adding that Ellicotville also saw many Canadians sell their properties during the pandemic. “We look forward to welcoming everyone again.”
Canadians have long enjoyed shopping in the United States, where they avoid federal sales taxes imposed by the Canadian government. And on Wednesday, retailers across New York seemed excited that such shoppers might soon be returning across the border. So did the leaders of several tribal casinos scattered across western New York and the North Country, including the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, where the absence of Canadian players has hurt the gambling business.
At Walden Galleria, a huge mall east of Buffalo, near the New York Thruway, officials said retailers are already planning a “Welcome Canadians!” sales.
“Our Canadian clients have always been a significant part of our business,” said Stephen J. Kongel, CEO of Pyramid Management Group, the mall’s parent company. “Therefore, we are delighted to welcome our beloved northern neighbors back to the country.”
Meanwhile at Lake Champlain, Norman Leigh, owner of Lakeside Coffee in Rose Point, New York, which sits on the border, said that if the 19-month blackout was a positive thing, it was one that forced him and others business owners develop deeper connections with their own communities.
“We feel stronger,” said Mr. Lag, a former border patrol agent.
However, he also said he was looking forward to the new Canadian boats and cars parked outside his lakeside café.
“It will be nice to see faces we haven’t seen yet,” he said.