Alternative forms of money
June 21, 2007 10:46 AM   Subscribe

"I'm all outta dollars, you got any Berkshares?" Several Great Barrington, Massachusetts businesses have developed a local currency to promote local business.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

This isn't uncommon.
posted by k8t at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2007

It's a great idea. I wish we would do it here.

Cept fer the yokels sure dew luv themsels a Walmart!
posted by rougy at 10:58 AM on June 21, 2007

I thought those things were scrip, not currency.

In any event it's amusing to see Great Barrington getting all of this press though I will note that the general store in the adjacent town of Monterey was selling scrip at least fifteen years ago.
posted by Songdog at 11:00 AM on June 21, 2007

Don't forget about the good ol' Ithaca Hours.
posted by Remy at 11:03 AM on June 21, 2007

Disney Dollars and, of course:

Homer: One adult and four children.
Woman: Would you like to buy some Itchy and Scratchy Money?
Homer: What's that?
Woman: Well it's money that's made just for the park. It works just
like regular money, but it's, er..."fun".
Bart: Do it, Dad.
Homer: Well, OK, if it's fun...let's see, uh...I'll take $1100 worth.
[he walks in, sees all the signs: "No I&S Money", "We Don't Take
Itchy and Scratchy Money", etc.]

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:06 AM on June 21, 2007

We've got this in Carrboro, too. I've never used it before, though. It's kind of a neat idea, but I imagine it would end up being more of a pain in the ass than anything else.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:07 AM on June 21, 2007

Do they take Shrute bucks?
posted by dios at 11:10 AM on June 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

Lawrence, KS, did this, but no one really used them much (probably because they wanted to keep that $3 bill with William Burroughs on it). Since the article is from 2003, I'm guessing they've pretty much disappeared by now.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:15 AM on June 21, 2007

Hey, I went to school in Great Barrington!
Yes, that was a pointless and self-absorbed comment- you're welcome!
posted by hincandenza at 11:22 AM on June 21, 2007

To follow up on my own question the BerkShares site identifies the bills as a local currency and doesn't use the word scrip.

There seems to have been a little flurry of press about BerkShares in the last day or so, and I think this might be why (from the FAQ):
What is the timeline for BerkShares?

At the end of June 2007, BerkShares, Inc., with input from participating banks and businesses, will evaluate the circulation of the local currency. At that point those participating might recommend modifications to the program--such as a 5% discount rather than 10%, or the addition of another denomination.

If changes are approved, then BerkShares, Inc. will take the next two months to structure the changes which will then go into effect on September 30, 2007.

In the unlikely event that exchange in BerkShares fails to be vibrant, then trade in BerkShares will terminate on September 30, 2007. Those with BerkShares in hand will have until December 31, 2007 to exchange their BerkShares for federal dollars at designated BerkShares Exchange Banks...
posted by Songdog at 11:27 AM on June 21, 2007

We have the same thing in Canada, only we call them loonies*.

* American dollars would also work in this joke.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:30 AM on June 21, 2007

Yup. We have had them in Carrboro for the last few years, but their value keeps dropping. Nice idea for the "people's republic" but most everyone here already buys local if they can anyway. It was more a symbol than something actually functional.
posted by greta simone at 11:34 AM on June 21, 2007

So, local businesses give a 10% discount to consumers dedicated enough to supporting local business to convert their money to scrip. The businesses then have effectively useless currency that can't really be used to pay for their overhead (as per the article - marketing efforts, utilities and suppliers apparently won't accept the funny money). So the local businesses pass the burden of a 10% discount and worthless money to another local business. Wait, how does this help local business again?
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 12:11 PM on June 21, 2007

Hey, I didn't know there were other Rockers here. When were you there, hincandenza?
posted by teferi at 12:11 PM on June 21, 2007

Wiki with links to:

* Amesbury Hours Amesbury, Massachusetts
* Anacostia Hours [1] Mount Rainier, Maryland
* Area Bucks Palo Alto, California
* Atlanta Hours Atlanta, Georgia
* Bainbridge Island Bucks Bainbridge Island, Washington
* Baltimore Hours [2] Baltimore, Maryland
* Barter Bucks Indianapolis, Indiana
* Bay Area Bucks [3] Traverse City, Michigan
* Berea Bucks Berea, Kentucky
* Berkeley Barter Network Berkeley, California
* Berkeley Bread Berkeley, California
* BerkShares, Southern Berkshires, Massachusetts
* BloomingHours [4] Bloomington, Indiana
* Blue Money Brattleboro, Vermont
* BNI [5] Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey
* Boise Hours Boise, Idaho
* Brattleboro Hours Chesterfield, New Hampshire
* Brooklyn Greenbacks Brooklyn, New York
* Buffalo Hours Buffalo, New York
* Buffalo Mountain Hours Hardwick, Vermont
* Bull City Bucks Durham, North Carolina
* Burlington Bread [6] Burlington, Vermont
* Butte Bucks Crested Butte, Colorado
* Cape Anne Dollars Gloucester, Massachusetts
* Capitol Area Self-Sustaining Hours Albany, New York
* Carbondale Spuds Carbondale, Colorado
* Chenango Hours New Berlin, New York
* Columbia County Hours Philmont, New York
* Columbia Hours Columbia, Missouri
* Community Cash Durango, Colorado
* Cuyahoga Hours Cleveland, Ohio
* Dillo Hours Austin, Texas
* Disney Dollar Disneyland and Disneyworld
* Flagstaff Neighborly Notes [7] Flagstaff, Arizona
* Floyd Hours Floyd, Virginia
* Fourth Corner Exchange [8] Pacific Northwest
* Great Lakes Hours Detroit, Michigan
* Green Mountain Hours [9] Montpelier, Vermont
* Greyhound Bucks Taft, Texas
* Hero dollar Minneapolis, Minnesota
* High Desert Dollars Prescott, Arizona
* Hollandollars Holland, Michigan
* Houston Hours Houston, Texas
* Humboldt Hours Eureka, California
* Humboldt exchange community currency Arcata, California
* Ithaca Hours Ithaca, New York
* Kansas City Barter Bucks Kansas City, Missouri
* Kauai Barter and Trade Network [10] Kilauea, Hawaii
* Kettle River Hours Kettle Falls, Washington
* Kitsap Hours Bremerton, Washington
* Lehigh Valley Barter Hours Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
* Liberty Dollars [11] Evansville, IN
* Lopez Island Hours Lopez Island, Washington
* Madison Hours [12] Madison, Wisconsin
* Mendocino SEED Fort Bragg, California
* Middletown Cash Middletown, CT, Wesleyan University
* Milwaukee Hours Milwaukee, Wisconsin
* Missoula Hours Missoula, Montana
* Mo' Money [13] New Orleans, Louisiana
* Mountain Money [14] Mars Hill, North Carolina
* NOCO Hours [15]Fort Collins, Greeley, and Loveland, Colorado
* North Fork Helping Hands Paonia, Colorado
* P.E.N. Neighborhood Exchange Takoma Park, Maryland
* Plenty [16] Carrboro, North Carolina
* Portage Hours Kent, Ohio
* REAL Dollars [17] Lawrence, Kansas
* RiverHOURS [18]Columbia River Gorge, USA
* San Luis Obispo Hours San Luis Obispo, California
* Sand Dollars Bolinas, California
* Santa Barbara Hours Santa Barbara, California
* Santa Fe Hours Santa Fe, New Mexico
* Santa Monica Hours Santa Monica, California
* Sequoia Hours Garberville, California
* Simply Hours Columbus, Ohio
* Skagit Dollars Mount Vernon, Washington
* Sonoma County Community Cash Santa Rosa, California
* Stoneridge Hours Kerhonkson, New York
* Summit Hours Akron, Ohio
* Thread City Bread Willimantic, Connecticut
* Time Bucks [19] Seattle, Washington
* Tulsa Hours Tulsa, Oklahoma
* Ukiah Hours [20] Ukiah, California
* Valley Dollars Greenfield, Massachusetts
* Waldo Hours Unity, Maine
* Wash Bucks Sioux City, Iowa
* Wooster Hours Apple Creek, Ohio
posted by edgeways at 12:20 PM on June 21, 2007

I like the artwork on the Salt Spring Island Dollars. Of course, Canadian currency tends to be colorful.
posted by Staggering Jack at 1:12 PM on June 21, 2007

This is cool!

Here in RI we tend to use live fish as currency, but hey, I'd be willing to change to paper.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:46 PM on June 21, 2007

The businesses then have effectively useless currency that can't really be used to pay for their overhead (as per the article - marketing efforts, utilities and suppliers apparently won't accept the funny money). So the local businesses pass the burden of a 10% discount and worthless money to another local business.

The article mentions that Berkshares can be exchanged for dollars and that several local banks do this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:08 PM on June 21, 2007

Hey, I went to school in Great Barrington!

Hey, I think my school played you in Soccer.
posted by Snyder at 2:17 PM on June 21, 2007

Or maybe not. I did have an idea like this when I was going to school in the Berkshires, though.
posted by Snyder at 2:20 PM on June 21, 2007

And we mustn't forget trusty old Rape Dollars.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:49 PM on June 21, 2007

teferi: Hey, I didn't know there were other Rockers here. When were you there, hincandenza?
One very fantastic but all-too-brief semester in Spring '94. I left because I had failing grades, the tuition was crazy expensive, and I am- what's the word?- oh yeah, depressed. So I left and moved to Seattle with $100 in my pocket, and spent a year and a half as a homeless Ave Rat in Seattle's U-District. In retrospect, I'd have been happier staying- as it turns out, while you'd not notice this while in a regular high school, gifted kids are rampant sex machines!

Christ, I miss college...
posted by hincandenza at 3:11 PM on June 21, 2007

Teferi & Hincandenza--

I'm a Rocker too-- 88-90, which makes me older than dirt, officially.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:48 PM on June 21, 2007

In the UK, we call it LETS. It works great if you want to swap time doing your highly desired skill so someone else can perform Reiki or some other nonsensical Hippy skill on you or something.
posted by seanyboy at 4:12 PM on June 21, 2007

We also have Favours.
posted by seanyboy at 4:16 PM on June 21, 2007

I'll take Berkshires
posted by b1tr0t at 6:50 PM on June 21, 2007

You guys are forgetting the thread from a few weeks ago, about how 30% of all Vermonters favor secession. This is just the next step along that path ... their own monetary system. The next logical step is their own militia, and then, it's Gaza all over again.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:57 PM on June 21, 2007

What a colossal waste of time and burden to commerce and efficiency.

An overly complicated and now obsolete solution for something a simple coupon or discount card program would solve much more easily and elegantly.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:06 PM on June 21, 2007

Wikipedia with links to:

Wiki does not contain information on local currencies.


posted by eritain at 4:55 AM on June 22, 2007

something a simple coupon or discount card program would solve much more easily and elegantly.

Except it doesn't.
posted by Miko at 7:29 AM on June 22, 2007

A discount card isn't as fun, though.
posted by empath at 8:10 AM on June 22, 2007

And I'm not quite sure why Walmart couldn't just start accepting Berkshares?
posted by empath at 8:11 AM on June 22, 2007

Another Rocker here, 99-03. Apparently some classmates of mine were involved in creating Berkshares.
posted by ScottMorris at 9:47 AM on June 22, 2007

I prefer to pay in Stanley Nickels.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:49 AM on June 22, 2007

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