Many Great Barrington, MA merchants are now accepting a new currency: Berkshires.

Here's how it works: Some local banks are now offering consumers Berkshires with a nominal value of $1 for every 95 cents in cash they trade in. Then some banks are accepting those Berkshires as cash -- meaning that consumers can save 5% by using Berkshires. The banks can then presumably trade the Berkshires in for 95 cents in cash.

In other words it isn't really a new currency that would conflict with the United States Constitution. Many of the town's 7,527 residents (according to the 2000 Census) have adopted the new currency as a way of supporting local businesses and buying locally.

It's a nifty idea to be sure, and a great headline grabber but it's really not that unique: It's no different from a coupon that offers a 5% discount at select businesses -- or a store that treats 95 cents worth of postage stamps in lieu of $1 in cash. But hey: If it builds community spirit and helps keep towns lookin' good with quaint shops instead of big boxes, I'm all for it. It's a harmless enough gimmick. Check out the video below for more detail.

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