Packages

Packages at a Houlton, Maine, mail-receiving shop have been stuck in limbo over the last 20 months because New Brunswickers haven't been able to get over the border to pick them up.

"When you walk through the door, you just kind of go, 'Holy cow,'" said Mike Folsom, operator of Shiretown Package Receiving on Military Street in Houlton.

"The shelves are full."

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Folsom said packages continue to pile up, but most have been there since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Some packages are as big as a washer and dryer boxes, others as small as envelopes.

New Brunswick residents who live near the border can ship their goods to Folsom's store to save on shipping. Folsom said if a company doesn't offer free international shipping, it could cost $30 or $40 to ship a pair of boots to Canada, for example. If people ship the boots to his store, they still have to pay duty, but shipping is free.

It's an arrangement that benefited both him and New Brunswickers until the pandemic arrived, and non-essential travel became difficult or impossible.

This month the United States announced it will opening its borders to fully vaccinated travellers by air, land or passenger ferry on Nov. 8. But its not like it used to be.

Land travellers will have to show proof of vaccination to be let into the U.S. To get back to New Brunswick, they'll have to show a negative COVID-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of their arrival, or a positive COVID-19 test taken between 14 and 180 days before their arrival.

"The rule is you have to [get tested] when you go back, which will help my business zero," he told Information Morning Fredericton. "It won't help … any border business. It will help people that want to travel. But it's not going to help the border towns at all.

Some New Brunswickers get packages delivered to Maine to save on shipping, but still pay duties. © David Common/CBC Some New Brunswickers get packages delivered to Maine to save on shipping, but still pay duties.

He said to get their packages people will either have to go through the process of crossing the border or get a brokerage company to pick them up. Many people are rejecting these and taking a wait-and-see approach, he said.

"People aren't going to go get a COVID test just to come pick up a package or a loaf of bread or milk or whatever."

He joked that he wishes he could get a big drone to drop off the packages, but border agents would disapprove.

"They wouldn't like that very well."

Folsom said the mail-receiving operation and New Brunswicker patronage were 95 per cent of his business. He said he had to find an alternative businesses so he could stay open, since he wasn't ready to close shop after eight years of operation.

"They're not just customers, they're friends," he said of cross-border shoppers.

To keep the business afloat he's become an ATV, snowmobile and boat dealer, selling used vehicles, motors and other machinery.

"Whatever I can sell to keep the doors open until the border opens," he said. 

Meanwhile, he's not getting rid of any of the packages and is making plans for longer-term storage.

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/packages-pile-up-at-mail-receiving-businesses-across-the-border/ar-AAPYAjA

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