I was really excited to hear that Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville had opened in Niagara Falls Canada. Its one of my favourite places to go for drinks in Orlando either before or after a day at Universal. That was until I looked at the menu. They have about half the menu items, a quarter of the merchandise selection in the store and don’t even use Margaritaville brand liquor in the drinks! This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed with an American brand coming to Canada. TGI Fridays is known for having cheap, tasty food, but head to the handful up North and the prices are horrible and the menu hardly resembles the American version at all. I’ve been to these places in the U.S. and know what they should be like, as many other Canadians do as well. It would be interesting to see what people think who are experiencing only the Canadian versions of these brand, without comparing them the U.S. ones. That’s the issue here, we get a watered down Canadian version of these brands. Higher prices with less selection. With the available comparison shopping available with the internet, it has become more of an issue. Take a look at the uproar with J.Crew. They thought they could get away with a subpar brand experience by charging more money and offering less merchandise, but Canadian shoppers knew better. They have been exposed to the online shopping arm of the brand for years, and knew something wasn’t right when they visited the first Canadian store in Toronto. The simply facts are that the Canadian dollar has been worth more than the U.S. dollar for 5 years now, and it’s not reflected in the pricing of these companies. All the talking heads refer to the higher costs of doing business in Canada and blah blah blah. It’s simply sucks that we get a subpar brand experience. Now, some brands are taking preventative steps for price comparisons, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister sending customers to a Canadian version of their site that reflects the same prices as Canadian stores. You simply cannot access the U.S. website if you are in Canada. Other companies have even stopped listing both the U.S. and Canadian prices on the tags, thereby hiding the price differences in both countries.
It will be interesting to see what approach Target takes when they open the first phase of stores in Canada starting in 2013. Will it be the same Target those of us who’ve shopped there know and expect, or a vastly different chain with the only similarity being the logo. How will the pricing be in comparison to the U.S., and what will the merchandise selection look like. I’m taking a wait and see approach, and hoping for the best. But many of us know what the reality most likely can and will end up being.