DEFINITION of 'BerkShares'

A local currency used in the Berkshires, a region in western Massachusetts. Only local businesses accept BerkShares, which are part of an initiative to encourage consumers to shop locally. Consumers can exchange U.S. dollars for BerkShares at community banks, and hundreds of local merchants accept the local currency. BerkShares are paper bills that come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50.

BREAKING DOWN 'BerkShares'

One way that BerkShares encourage consumers to shop locally is by providing an effective discount of 5% on purchases. A consumer only needs to exchange 95 cents at the bank to receive $1 in BerkShares. Stores accept BerkShares at full face value, so a customer who wanted to by a $10 item would effectively pay $9.50 if they paid in BerkShares. A nonprofit corporation, BerkShares Inc., issues the currency.

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