Grocery shopping continues to be a challenge as we move around from place to place. Here at Grand Portage, we have a Trading Post that is a pretty good little grocery store. Grand Marais has two grocery stores that are okay but typical of a small town. So we decided to head to the largest city around for grocery shopping. In Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, we found the Real Canadian Superstore.
That’s its name: Real Canadian Superstore. It is across the street from Walmart in case anyone thinks that Walmart might be the real Canadian Superstore. Its motto is “big on fresh, low on price.”
The Real Canadian Superstore really is a super store. There was an excellent selection of produce and it was very fresh. There were things in the produce section that we had never seen before. We found some of usual brands and a good selection of substitutes.
They didn’t have many low sodium products, but we found plenty of fresh things including a great meat department and a wonderful bakery. The biggest challenge was trying to convert metric units into things that we could recognize. For instance, I drink 28 cans of Diet Coke a week (four per day). If the superstore only sells Diet Coke in bottles that are 710 mL, how many do I need for a week? Or, if I usually need 1/2 gallon of milk for a week, how long will one litre last (yes, the carton said litre). It reminded me of a math word problem from 7th grade.
Another consideration was customs. After asking several rangers, hearing one ranger talk about getting limes confiscated at the border, and checking out the customs web page, I felt like I had a handle on what we could or could not bring back into the US. No citrus (mangoes are considered citrus) and no sheep meat (lamb, mutton, etc). Don’t ask me why. Pretty much anything else seemed to be allowed. So we skipped the oranges but bought plenty of lettuce and fresh vegetables.
When it was time to check out I encountered another obstacle. My visa card was denied. We have been having some problems with the card because we move from one area to another. It works fine as a debit card with the pin but not as a credit card. The Real Canadian Superstore didn’t allow me to use the card as a debit. They also didn’t take Discover, which is my only other credit card. They didn’t have an ATM where I could get Canadian money. Argh!
Finally I told the cashier that I could pay in cash, but I only had US dollars. She said that was fine! She pushed a button on the cash register, it told me the total in US dollars, and I was able to pay for my groceries. I even got $20 Canadian in change.
When we got to customs, we handed them our passports and our receipts from the grocery store. After looking everything over, the customs agent waved us through. At least that was easy!
I’m sure we will shop at the Real Canadian Superstore again. It is definitely the best grocery store around and the low prices make it worth driving the hour to Thunder Bay. I think I got the problem with Visa straightened out and, if not, I will be sure that I am carrying plenty of cash!