« Employers crack down on retirees who 'double dip' | Main | Time to say goodbye to that old basement fridge? »

June 09, 2021

Town prints own money to boost local spending

With all the talk about “Buy Canadian” and “support your local vendors,” there are really few incentives for us to actually do it.1204230_dollar_icon

The crude realities for Canucks: many items are cheaper online, cheaper at Walmart and cheaper in the States.

Yet one small town is battling back against the Big Bad Commerce Hijackers. One small town isn’t going down without a fight.

I came across this neat story out of Pennsylvania the other day, about Ardmore – a village of around 12,000 just northwest of Philadelphia – and its pretty unique efforts to boost the local economy.

With the help of some community bank donations, the town has taken to printing its own money (Downtown Dollars, as they’re known) and selling the denominations for half-price to foster consumer spending within the city.

So, for example, an Ardmore resident could buy 20 Downtown Dollars for US$10 that can be used at many of the town’s shops, restaurants and clothing stores. Quite an incentive, right?


Turns out, the initiative hasn’t yet been the hit it was designed to be. Of the 15,000 Downtown Dollars printed, only 2,900 have been redeemed, according to, a sign that either Ardmore has the worst stores and eateries around, or the word simply hasn’t gotten out yet.

But let’s give this experiment a little more time.

The idea is ingenious, if nothing else, and it makes you wonder how many Canadian towns could adopt this enterprise as a means to fend off the big box, chain retailers.

Officials in large commerce markets like Toronto or Montreal wouldn’t need such a plan, but what about tiny Canadian outposts or – more likely – border towns? Couldn’t they benefit from incentives that’d keep its residents from hopping into the U.S. for a quick grocery run or car tank fill-up?

What do you think? Could a town printing its own money ever catch on and promote more local spending? Would you spend more in your city if there were such incentives?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...