Three girl friends and I recently went on a cross border shopping trip to Pennsylvania where there is no tax on clothing and shoes. We had a great time. Here are some tips:
1. We crossed the border at Peace Bridge which was much faster than going through the Queenston-Lewiston bridge.
2. We stopped at a McD's which was conveniently located just off the highway for a bathroom break about 30min after we crossed the border. There was also a gas station there where we could have gotten some US (cheaper than Canada) gas.
3. After about 3.5 hours, we arrived in Erie, Pennsylvania for our first shopping stop. We had lunch at the food court at the Millcreek Mall. I had a huge salad at Fuddruckers which was delicious but so big that I couldn't finish.
4. There was nothing much at the mall other than a good sale at The Limited so I would suggest skipping the Mall next time.
5. We also went to a nearby TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Designer Shoe Warehouse, and Target. I would prioritize Marshall's and DSW next time although I did find stuff at TJ Maxx and we walked off our TGIFridays dinner at Target since it was the only store that opened late.
6. We drove another 1.5 hours and stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn Grove City which was clean, comfy, and spacious for the four of us. They also had a pretty good spread for the free breakfast buffet.
7. We spent the day shopping at the Grove City Premium Outlets. Be sure to join their mailing list and print out a voucher for their coupon book and additional coupons. It's worth it especially since the four of us pooled our purchases so we got additional discounts at many stores.
8. Some stores will give you an additional discount if you sign up for their credit card. You just need to give them your SIN and drivers license. You can pay it off right at the cashier so you don't have to remember to make the credit card payment layer.
9. We had dinner at Primanti Brothers, a Pittsburgh local chain right beside the outlet featuring famous meat, coleslaw, and french fries sandwiches. 10. On our way home, we stopped at the same McD's rest stop and filled up on American gas (cheaper than Canada) one last time.
11. We got charged 13% tax on our way back into Canada because we all went over our $200/person limit for less than a 48hour stay. Kids clothes are only taxed at 5%. You are taxed on the full amount once you go over the exemption. It still worked out to be slightly less than an extra night of hotel stay. So depending on how much you are planning to spend, it may or may not be worth it to spend an extra night in the US.
Even though we had to pay for the hotel ($40/person), 3 meals ($50/person), gas ($30/person) and taxes (13%), the trip was well worth it. I forgot how much fun it was to go shopping and just to hang out with girl friends.