(3/6) When Berkshire County, Mass.
wanted to revitalize its local economy, the
business community introduced BerkShares,
local currency that can be used in various
businesses in the county. Thurmont Main Street
Manager Vickie Grinder wants to do something
similar for Thurmont using “Thurmoney.”
“It’s a way to promote independent
businesses and drive the economic development
engine,” Grinder said.
BerkShares are issued in five
denominations: 1s, 5s, 10s, 20s, and 50s. The
bills portray local heroes, landscapes, and
the work of local artists. Every BerkShare
spent helps keep local money in the community.
Thousands of people in Berkshire County use
BerkShares on a regular basis for food, movie
tickets, clothing, books, music, and a variety
of services from legal advice to landscaping,
from car repair to carpentry.
Grinder’s idea is to do something similar
with gift certificates in various
denominations that can portray various
landmarks in town.
“Because they would have to be processed by
town employees, we need to get the approval of
the commissioners first before I start signing
up businesses,” Grinder said.
Among Thurmont’s 86 locally owned
businesses, Grinder thinks at least 30 and
possibly 50 would be interested in accepting
“It’s an opportunity to buy a local gift
and have it be good at 50 different places,”
The BerkShare is actually a 10 percent
discount note, which means each $1 in
BerkShares costs 90 cents in U.S. dollars.
This gives people using the local currency
more buying power and more of a reason to shop
Grinder said she will investigate this
possibility for Thurmony with the business
survey she conducts during the annual Thurmont
Business Expo, which will be on Mar. 28 at
Catoctin High School.
The BerkShares web site notes, “Using
BerkShares will be a citizen's way of voting
for local businesses and keeping money local.”
Grinder said she will be taking the idea to
the town commissioners when she can get on