Day trippin’ to Buffalo (Toronto Life, Ep. 320)

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I logged quite a bit of overtime last month and thus took today off to take care of an appointment (done by 8:45 a.m.), visit Buffalo for the first time in goodness knows how many years, and introduce Lil Sis to cross-border shopping. Lil Sis is a good eBay shopper and eschewed, to my disappointment, physically going to the U.S. to shop. As soon as I knew I had the day off, I suggested a casual day trip across the border to Buffalo because, no matter where I live, I’m loathed to do a “staycation” .

Thus, in the past week, a colleague and I had quite a bit to talk about since we have/had some upcoming travel destinations in common. She is a lifer GTA resident and has been to Buffalo to shop countless times. She gave me many tips that I passed on to Lil Sis including that since the 48-hour exemption limit just got raised recently, all cars returning to Canada had been pulled over and my colleague had to pay duties on her purchases each time. Meanwhile, I have been very lucky to have been pulled in once and waved on all other times and paid nothing no duties so far.

We set out a little later than I would have liked but I wasn’t going to push it because I would not be driving and it merely made for a densely packed day instead. The Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls website gave shoddy directions and only mentioned which bridge to cross (Rainbow) but not which highway exit to take to arrive there. We ended up at Peace Bridge further south and the border guard seemed wary about our answer that we were shopping at the outlet mall but we were crossing at his bridge. Rather than explain we took the “wrong exit” I said we made a “wrong turn” and I had not thought it necessary to let Lil Sis know this and she got flustered! The guard let us into his fair country so that we could shop for a day.


Shopping on eBay makes Lil Sis quite savvy about prices while I hardly ever do my “research” as I mean to, like going to Banana Republic to check out current season items, their prices, and evaluate the extent of the deal at the outlet store. Which is why after looking at regular price clothing at the outlet with their nominal discount, I head for the clearance racks where if I find something, it is guaranteed to be a very good deal. Lil Sis was uncertain that an additional 40% would be applied on clearance prices at Banana Republic and J. Crew but I’ve shopped often enough to understand the clearance lingo–they were discounted further and I scored a yellow blouse for $12 and the pink ruffle blouse for $24!

Although they are not the Perfect Pump, I got the Signature Pump at Ann Taylor for 40% off the outlet price of $80 which is a significant reduction from $155 in regular stores albeit the regular stores carry the Perfect Pump. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to about the Perfect versus Signature? I won’t quibble because they are awesome shoes I will get a lot of use out of. I couldn’t tell if the fit felt different but I could see there was a slight difference in the interior, the insole, between the two.

Shopping in the States for just one day and having to make quick decisions can be at odds with my shopping style and the worst is to feel regret over an impulsive decision. I mulled over the 5″ Mary Jane faux-suede platform pumps at Forever 21 for quite a while and walked around the store in them before taking the plunge. I was afraid of regret as they were not on sale. In the end, I justified making the purchase because (1) it might not be available in Canada (2) the price will be higher in Canada [indeed, CAD$39.80 vs US$27.80] (3) New York sales tax is lower than Ontario, and (4) I have wanted Mary Jane-style shoes for quite a wild. For them to be an ultra-diva height of 5″ is just a bonus. No regrets.

I did not know how to get from the outlet mall to Walden Galleria but obviously I was not the first person to ask. The outlet mall’s customer service keeps paper slips with the driving directions to pass to tourists who ask the same question.


I was pleased when on some counts Lil Sis came around to realize the “edge” going to the States can confer. At the J.Crew outlet store, she could walk within the physical walls and touch the merchandise that she peruses for deals at the online factory store. She could slip on the (Cece?) flats and feel how buttery soft they were to scout hard for a good deal online. And a far better deal on some trendy rubber flats if purchased in store ($15 vs $50). Another store she’s only known of online is dELiAs where she shops and selects only the most conservative items from the ultra-trendy and youthful line.

But it was at Walmart where we picked up some groceries and beauty products, things she gets from physical stores in Canada, where she shopped the most and was amazed by the extensive selection and much lower prices. I always have a great deal of fun in Walmart and it was wonderful to share that with my sister!


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On this day..


  1. ♥That I’m counting down til Labor Day cuz then I’ll begin my Fall shopping!! I’m thinking more stores will start putting their fall stuff out soon.

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