Money can be a powerful decision-making tool. BerkShares turn currency into a tool for community education and empowerment in the Berkshires, while celebrating our landscape, heroes and artists.
“We welcome BerkShares, and were very early adopters because we believe that using local currency is an excellent way to cultivate and nurture our region’s businesses and resources, which then makes it more attractive for people to live here and move here and work here.” Sarah Eustis, Red Lion Inn
BerkShares are cash. Anyone can purchase BerkShares at participating bank branches at an exchange rate of 95 cents to 1 BerkShare. BerkShares can then be spent at participating businesses at face value; 10 BerkShares can be used to make a purchase worth 10 dollars.
“BerkShares work just like U.S. cash, and once you take them in it is best to keep them circulating by spending them at one of the other 400 participating businesses. It’s surprising to a lot of businesses because they can just do it. It’s not complicated.” Scott Laugenour, The Kemble Inn and Table Six Restaurant
The currency is only accepted by locally owned businesses, so when you spend BerkShares you know you’re supporting a business that is rooted in this community. Locally owned businesses have been proven to be better for the environment and the economy than their non-local counterparts. They tend to spend more money with local suppliers and service providers, they keep profits local, and they pay more local taxes. In addition, they contribute to the diversity of our cities and towns, have higher environmental standards, and increase social equality and political participation.
Compiled results from studies by Civic Economics: www.civiceconomics.com. Graph by American Independent Business Alliance: www.amiba.net
“In Austin, researchers found that $100 spent at a Borders would circulate $13 in the Austin economy, while the same $100 spent at two local bookstores would circulate $45—creating roughly three times the jobs, earnings, and tax collections.” Michael Shuman, TINA vs. LOIS: The Small Mart Revolution
BerkShares help you to really think about where you are spending your money, and to develop stronger relationships within your local economy.
“Fiscally, the mission of the BerkShares really makes sense. You know, to keep it in town. We all talk like that, but it’s a way to put your money where your mouth is. It really does affect your wallet when money leaves town.” Eric Wilska, The Bookloft
“When you’re spending BerkShares you’re creating a relationship. It’s saying,‘I support what you’re doing, and I’m going to keep coming back.'” Phyllis Webb, The Magic Fluke, Co.
BerkShares shine a light on participating local banks, local businesses, and local non-profit organizations, raising people’s awareness of the essential role they play in the economic and social well being of the Berkshire region.
“We accept BerkShares because it’s another way to identify ourselves as a local business that cares about the community of local entrepreneurs” Scott Laugenour, The Kemble Inn and Table Six Restaurant
BerkShares are for the people and by the people of the Berkshires. BerkShares, Inc. is a place-based, democratically structured non-profit organization with membership open to all residents of the Berkshire Region. Members elect the board of directors, ratify major decisions, and support the organization through their annual membership dues of 25 BerkShares or 25 dollars, while also acting as ambassadors for the currency.
“What’s so nice about BerkShares is that they’re telling stories about the community through the currency. That’s what is so important to celebrate, and to share with visitors who don’t know about Community Supported Agriculture, W.E.B. DuBois, or the other stories that are so rooted in the history of the Berkshires.” Beryl Jolly, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center