Shop small using local currency

The UK has turned attention to its small businesses.

Since 2007, the United States has been holding the annual Small Business Saturday. Small businesses offer sales and promotions to encourage people to buy locally, in their own community, from local and sometimes traditional traders.

Last December, the Small Business Saturday took place in the UK for the first time supported by the Prime Minister.

It is not about trying to sabotage famous brands, but finding a balance between large and small shops: Having a sporadic coffee in a traditional café two blocks from your work instead of heading to the closer Starbucks.

According to the organisers, it was a huge success. The main goal of the campaign is to remind people to continue shopping locally throughout the year. Consequences and next steps may be followed on Twitter.

But buying locally seems not enough for some boroughs. They also want to have their own currency.

Brixton pound notes: God save Bowie

Brixton Pound notes: God save Bowie

Brixton has got its Brixton Pound (B£) since 2009 printed in jolly notes. The idea is to have a currency that makes money stick to the neighbourhood, avoiding its evasion, and encourage local trade and production. It doesn’t replace pounds sterling, but works alongside them.

Around 250 businesses take B£ and each B£ is worth £1, what doesn’t help to make people see advantages in exchanging cash to spend only in the area. Some businesses may offer benefits or discounts when using it, but this is optional and occasional. It’s all about being sustainable, and not everybody can be up to it.

Brixton was the first urban area to have its currency and the fourth of a project called transition town, following Devon (with its Totnes Pound), Sussex (Lewes Pound) and Gloucestershire (Stroud Pound).

Recently, Crystal Palace, in Croydon, and Kingston upon Thames have also shown interest in developing their own currency.

It seems each borough wants to protect its trade from the prevalent global crisis by keeping them in a bell jar. Will it work? Time will tell. And, we know, time is money…


  • Worth reading: One year ago, a journalist from the American Vice Magazine tried to buy drugs in Brixton using the Brixton Pound. He failed.




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