Sunday, April 26, 2009


I was going to mention this back a while ago but this seems to be the first opportunity to do so. USA Today no longer comes to the city. Shortly after the paper started, USA Today boxes could be found throughout the city. Don't know how long they lasted but it was years. After they were removed, the paper was available at some 7/elevens as well as the major book stores. No more. Since March of 2009, you cannot find a USA Today in any of the traditional stores. I have not tried Dominion News but you can't get it at McNally or Chapters.

USA Today content on the web includes all their print material but it is not the same as sitting reading the paper with its bright photos and great illustrations. I still think their mapping of the Inaugural in Washington showed how superior a newspaper is for some things.

USA Today often writes stories others don't cover which makes it an interesting paper. Back in early April, they wrote a story on Berkshares, a plan were local communities print their own paper currency during hard times.

The principle of the idea is that businesses and individuals form a group whereby they pay for a local currency at a discounted level. Usually that is around 5%. In other words, a person pay .95 cents for a currency worth $1.00 in local stores.

Under the BerkShares system, a buyer goes to one of 12 banks and pays $95 for $100 worth of BerkShares, which can be spent in 370 local businesses. Since its start in 2006, the system, the largest of its kind in the country, has circulated $2.3 million worth of BerkShares. In Detroit, three business owners are printing $4,500 worth of Detroit Cheers, which they are handing out to customers to spend in one of 12 shops.

This has been advertised as a good thing for small towns but why not a city like Winnipeg?

The Downtown Biz already has the Blue Loony program but you only get a $1 coin after spending $20 worth of services. It is good for parking, transit or a number of businesses. I don't know if someone buys a dinner of over $100 whether they receive $10 coins. My understanding of it is no.

Interesting program for what it is worth. Would love to see it in Winnipeg.

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cherenkov said...

As long as the design of the currency isn't chosen from a Free Press contest open only to 10 year-olds.

John Dobbin said...

Yes, that would certainly put a damper on things. heh

The Berkshares currency was actually quite attractive. It was prominent historical men and women from the region that were featured on the bills.