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Alice Maggio

Berkshire Co-op now allows 100 percent of purchases in BerkShares

By Sunday, Jul 3, 2016 Trade and Commerce 1

Great Barrington — On Friday, July 1, 2016, Berkshire Co-op Market began accepting BerkShares for 100 percent of any in-store purchase. This change in policy represents a major shift for Great Barrington’s cooperatively owned market because the Co-op had previously been accepting only 50 percent of any given purchase in BerkShares.

2ndBerkShares are the local currency for Berkshire County. Citizens can exchange federal dollars for BerkShares at sixteen branch offices of the following four local banks: Adams Community Bank, Lee Bank, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, and Salisbury Bank and Trust Company. At the bank, 95 cents will purchase 1 BerkShare.

Citizens may then spend their currency at more than 400 participating businesses, all of which are locally owned. At participating businesses, 1 BerkShare may be spent as if it were 1 dollar. The circulation of BerkShares encourages money to remain within the region, building a greater affinity between the local business community and consumers.

Berkshire Co-op Market’s board of directors endorsed the change in policy, recognizing that BerkShares are a tool for community economic empowerment and education, and therefore in line with the Co-op’s belief that a stronger community will benefit us all. As part of the decision to accept 100 percent of any purchase in BerkShares, the Co-op will be developing ways to recirculate the local currency back through the local economy.

Berkshire Co-op Market and BerkShares Inc. celebrated this new development on Friday with a “BerkShare the Love” social media campaign, encouraging people to visit the Co-op with local currency in hand. Fans of A Prairie Home Companion, however, needed little reminding since Garrison Keillor commented last Saturday night at Tanglewood that true denizens of the Berkshires buy their “organic, sustainable, gluten-free kimchi” using Melvilles and Mohicans.

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