Finances and Shopping


Shopping and purchasing goods is very easy in North America. If you are a student who is unfamiliar with a consumer culture, be careful not to get carried away when you shop; this can happen easily, so you may find it helpful to pay with cash, rather than using cheques or buying on credit. Sometimes, salesclerks use pressure tactics to influence customers to buy their products. If you find yourself under pressure in a store, remember, you have every right to say no and you should never be coerced into buying an item you do not really want. If you feel harassed by a salesperson, you may find it useful to say that you are " just browsing." Canadian stores do not use a barter system; instead you pay the asking price, which is indicated on the price tag or on the display shelf, and you pay with cash, a debit card, or a credit card (see below). Sometimes, stores which sell used goods, antique stores, and farmer' s markets are open to price bargaining, in which case you and the owner work out a price agreement based on the asking price and what you are willing to pay. Certain stores offer student discounts, and you may wish to ask the International Student Advisor how to obtain a Student Price Card, and what sorts of discounts you would then be eligible for. Before you buy something, be aware of the terms of sale. Ask if you can return the product for a refund, or exchange it for something else, if you change your mind or if you find that there is something wrong with it. Watch for sale tags that say " final sale;" stores will often refuse to provide refunds or exchanges for items that have been sold at a reduced price. Small and large electric appliances usually carry a warranty that covers malfunction for a period of months or years. Sometimes there is a warranty card that must be filled out and mailed to the company. If you find something wrong with the item you have purchased, and you want to return it or have it repaired at no charge, you normally have to show the receipt of purchase.  It is a good idea to keep all receipts until you are certain that you are satisfied with the products you have purchased. You will not be able to exchange your purchase or ask for a refund unless you have a receipt. If you are visited by a door-to-door salesperson, and sign a contract to purchase a product, and if you then change your mind about the purchase, you have ten days to break the contract by writing to the company. You should register your letter at the post office on Main Street, and you should send the letter quickly so that it reaches the company within ten days. It is not sufficient to inform the company by phone. If the door-to-door salesperson is selling a service, you should know that any contract you sign to receive a service may not be as easy to break.


There are four banks or credit unions in Antigonish where you can open an account, have money wired, and purchase money orders and bank drafts. Having an account at a local bank allows you to use cheques for paying rent and bills, and you may also apply for a bank or debit card for purchasing and withdrawing cash. You may find it helpful to set up a bank account before arriving in Antigonish, though this is certainly not necessary. The Bank of Nova Scotia (902-863-4800), the Royal Bank (902-863-0008), the Bergengren Credit Union (902-863-6600), and the CIBC (902-863-4740) are all located downtown on Main Street. Each bank has a cash machine outside so that you can withdraw money even when the bank office is closed; There are TD bank machine located on campus, in Bloomfield Centre and Charles V. Keating Centre. There is no Toronto-Dominion bank in town, but there is a TD bank machine located in the Sobey' s grocery store at the Antigonish Mall.

Credit Cards

To obtain a credit card, an applicant must have established a good credit rating and be able to provide proof of income. For this reason, it is sometimes difficult for international students to obtain credit cards. If you decide to apply for a credit card, compare the different cards available, especially the interest rates that companies charge on monthly balances. Be aware that if you do not pay your credit card bill in full, you will be charged interest every month. If you are concerned about having sufficient money to pay your credit card bill every month, as well as the interest that could accumulate, you may prefer not to apply for a credit card.

HST (Sales Tax)

On most of your purchases in Canada, you will pay sales tax; in the Atlantic Provinces, this is known as HST, while in the rest of the country, sales tax is divided into two categories called GST and PST. Nova Scotia's HST is 15% of the cost of a product. This tax is not included on the price tag for an item; it is added at the cash register. For example, if you purchase a toothbrush with a price tag of $1.00, the actual cost of the toothbrush, including tax, will be $1.15. If you purchase a big-ticket (expensive) item such as a computer, you can get a rebate on the tax you pay only if you ship your purchase directly out of the country. Forms to request this tax rebate are available at the International Students Office. If you intend to use your purchase during your stay in Canada, or if you plan to leave it behind when you return home, then you must pay the tax on your purchase.

Shopping for Groceries and Personal Items

There are two main grocery stores or supermarkets in Antigonish; one is within walking distance of the university. Each week, the stores distribute flyers indicating which goods are on sale or available at special prices. Since the supermarkets are in competition with each other, it is a good idea to read the flyers and compare prices before you go shopping. There are a number of convenience stores (corner stores) in Antigonish, but they are more expensive than the supermarkets. There are also many pharmacies or drug stores in town, one at the Antigonish Mall, several downtown, as well as in Walmart and Superstore. Like the supermarkets, the drug stores distribute weekly flyers containing information about specials and sales, and you may find it worthwhile to comparison shop. A health food store is located on Main Street; it is well stocked with natural items. In Nova Scotia, you must be 19 years of age or older in order to buy (and drink) liquor. Please refer to the section on Cars: Legal Requirements for regulations concerning the safe transportation of alcoholic beverages.

Buying Used Goods

You can buy appliances, household goods, and furniture at reasonable prices from garage and yard sales, as well as from used goods stores. Be sure to try out any appliance before you buy it, since there are no returns or refunds at yard sales. Advertisements for these sales can be found in the local newspaper, The Casket, the university newspaper, The Xaverian, on bulletin boards, and on the local radio station, CJFX. 

Where to buy clothing
There are places to shop in Antigonish, New Glasgow, Truro and Halifax. Halifax has several shopping malls. Here are links to the two largest malls: Micmac Mall and the Halifax Shopping Centre.

Stores are also located in the Antigonish down town. To find out the names of the shops in Nova Scotia, google “shopping”. The least expensive time to shop for new clothes is when there is a sale.

Some second-hand stores are popular places for students to shop. A very popular one is the Opportunity Shop and Encore on Main Street. Value Village is also a good place to shop, they sell good used clothing at reasonable prices. Some clothes may not have been worn before or some may have designer labels. In any case, all the clothes are in good condition.

Yard sales sell second hand clothes, furniture and other household goods, tapes, CDs, TVs, stereos, bicycles, and sports items. Yard sales and flea markets, often advertised in the local newspaper and are another source of bargains