AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- One of the first major changes during the coronavirus pandemic was a coin shortage. Many local businesses noted they were having trouble providing change and even found themselves asking customers to pay in card or digitally.
“We were closed for 85 days and I worked every single day of those 85 days trying to sell anything I could, anyway that I could,” said Kate Gourde, owner of Cooper’s in Agawam.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused local businesses many setbacks. Early on, one of the major ones impacting owners and banks was a national coin shortage. Despite the struggles and shortages of the pandemic, local businesses got creative
Gourde told Western Mass News that she found a unique way to avoid making change.
“We offered a local charity round up program every month. It’s a local charity and we ask our customers if they would like to round up the change to the next dollar at the register and if they agree to do so, we match 50 percent of the donation,” Gourde explained.
Gourde said her round-up program has brought in more the $30,000 which has gone to organizations like Pioneer Valley USO.
“Once we ordered our coins, we were not getting what we actually ordered,” said Carolyn Balicki with Monson Savings Bank.
Balicki said their issues went all the way to a federal level.
“…So if we ordered a box of quarters of $500, sometimes the feds would change it out for $100 in dimes and not only would that impact the branches, it would impact our business customers as well,” Balicki explained.
Fast-forward a year later and Balicki said helping the national coin shortage was a community effort.
“Personal customers digging into their piggy banks and bringing it in to the banks, we were able to turn it around again to the feds and back to our customers,” Balicki noted.
Recently, the board of the Federal Reserve System created the U.S. Coin Task Force and they said, “Since mid-June of 2020, the U.S. Mint has been operating at full production capacity. In 2020, the mint produced 14.8 billion coins, a 24 percent increase from the 11.9 billion coins produced in 2019.”
They said the hope is as the economy recovers and businesses reopen, more coins will flow back into retail and banks.