BerkShares in the Time of COVID

The small business owners of the Berkshires are my heroes. They have adjusted to the restrictions of COVID; they are meeting the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic with good spirits. I want to support them with the same good spirit and enthusiasm, letting them know the Berkshires are a better place because they are here. A payment in BerkShares means they are not sending off hard-won funds to a distant credit card corporation. A payment in BerkShares means I’m committed to keeping money local for the long run.

When I order takeout from nearby Swiss Hütte or John Andrews, I place my BerkShares payment in a clean envelope and leave it at the table where I collect the bag with my name on it--masked, of course.

My garden has never been more beautiful, thanks to Ward’s Nursery, where I’ve taken multiple trips for twine to tie up the roses, additional onion sets, or seaweed fertilizer. I call to place the order and prepare an envelope of BerkShares to exchange at curbside.  

After being closed for months, my local dentist, Dr. Mullany, opened again, and I now have a crown instead of a missing tooth. Right— an envelope with BerkShares covered the cost.

Oskar Hallig and Mike Zippel recently opened “The Shop” on Main Street South Egremont. I chose a multi-colored striped bow tie to purchase with Berkshares. I know just who would wear it dashingly!  But I have my eye on one of the boxed advent calendars – the kind with doors that open to a compartment where sweets and treats can be placed. I’m not sure which child to give it to, but there is still time to decide. The Only in My Dreams Paraphernalia Packs have proven the perfect gifts for staff birthday presents filled with Berkshire-made mugs, chocolates, hand sanitizers, and barbecue seasonings. Purchased with Berkshire-made currency!

I am seventy-four this month and not secure enough to venture into the Berkshire Food Co-op, but I place my order online and Emma, Shayna, or Devorah bring it to the car when I call. I leave an envelope with BerkShares to top off my owner tab for next week’s order.

Prairie Whale, Bizalions, Bistro Box, and Great Barrington Bagel Co. all have COVID precautions in place and all take BerkShares in payment, handed over in an envelope.  

The Great Barrington Farmers Market has routinely been a favorite Saturday stop for me, though the large crowd dissuades me from visiting, even with social distancing practices in place. However, individual farms like Marikristo sell at their sites, so I can still choose beautiful bouquets and leave BerkShares in the honor jar.  

Taxes must still be paid, even in a time of COVID, and Alan Glackman, CPA, accepts payment in BerkShares for filing returns. He saves them for dinner dates with his wife, al fresco at Café Adam and other Great Barrington venues.

COVID has introduced more reading time. Matt at The Bookstore in Lenox will order the title I’m looking for. Pick-up includes an envelope with BerkShares and a long chat through masks outside on the sidewalk.

The times are increasingly unpredictable. Having a local currency in place, circulating through our community banks, and to our locally owned businesses means we have a strong tool ready to build the Berkshire economy in a manner shaped by the citizens of the region, independent of outside forces.

Join me in using BerkShares robustly!

Susan Witt, Co-founder of BerkShares Local Currency

Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 2:15pm