Locking in the Promise to Buy Local
by Claire Greene
Communities & Banking - Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
TruthAtlas.com - GREAT BARRINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS – The mountainous Berkshires region of western Massachusetts is making money the old-fashioned way–by minting its own currency. This local scrip, called BerkShares, isn’t part of a secessionist movement or a nose-thumb at the federal government. Instead, it’s an unusual, successful, and perfectly legal way to encourage local spending.
Washington Times - Cheryl K. Chumley - It started at five community banks and has now spread to more than 400 local businesses. One small county in Massachusetts has created its own system of money, currency called BerkShares that’s accepted by a large portion of the establishments in the community.
And $100 will get you 105 BerkShares — a 5 percent discount for money that’s good at most of the local stores, PBS NewsHour reported. Conversely, trading in BerkShares for greenbacks calls for a 5 percent fee — so 105 BerkShares only buys $100 at the banks.
MSNBC's Your Business - Great Barrington, MA is a beautiful town tucked away in the Berkshires, and shopping small is at its core. Just two hours away from both New York and Boston, the downtown area has an active buy local movement, its own currency, and plans to kick off the holiday shopping season with a bang on Small Business Saturday.
Al Jazeera America - GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Whenever Alice Maggio opens her wallet, she never hesitates about how to pay. It’s always cash, and it’s rarely dollars.
“They’re beautiful,” she coos as she shows off the colored bills, which are unlike any other. “You can take pride in spending them.”
Maggio frowns on dollars, preferring something else, called a BerkShares. The currency is available only in the Berkshires region of western Massachusetts.
American Booksellers Association - Sydney Jerrard - BerkShares, a local currency designed to foster a stronger community by keeping commerce local, launched in 2006 in western Massachusetts with more than one million BerkShares circulating through 100 area businesses in the first year. Almost seven years later, the program has grown to include more than 400 businesses in the state’s Berkshires region as well as some towns in New York and Connecticut, and more than four million BerkShares have flowed through participating businesses.
In These TImes - Julia Pergolini - The American idiom “Don’t take any wooden nickels!” predates the 1930s, but that era’s bank crises did lead to the actual use of wooden currency. When local banks failed or were inaccessible in the Pacific Northwest, some merchants and towns issued wooden money as a stopgap. The wooden nickels circulated as IOUs until the banks became accessible.
BerkShares held a party at the Lion's Den in Stockbridge where customers were highly encouraged to spend BerkShares for dinner or drinks. Entertainment was provided by the Easy Ridin' Papas. Community Television in the Southern Berkshires covered the event.
What Travel Writers Say - Kelsey Maki - During the Gilded Age (1870s – 1900), many of the wealthiest people in the US built summer cottages in Western Massachusetts’ Berkshire County. For this reason, the area was given the nickname of “Inland Newport.” And while both the Berkshires and Newport boast architectural moments to the excess of the age, the difference between these two towns lies in the rich artistic and literary heritage of Berkshire County.