Transition Town, a Greener Hawick, launched its test scheme in March 2010. Danielle Grunberg, wearing a top hat, handed out notes in the Civic Space, a square at the end of the High Street, one sunny Saturday. She announced, "The farmers' market is on today, and the stallholders have agreed to accept payment in Hawicks!"
Twenty-one traders out of some 130 contacted signed up for the scheme at the launch and had their names printed on the back of the notes. A similar number joined after, while more accepted the notes without officially signing up.
The trial scheme closed three months later. According to the debrief, the public response to the scheme was mixed with some embracing the idea and others decrying it as useless. Most traders said they would contemplate being part of another issue although some felt they did not benefit from the scheme and that it was not worth doing. Other comments included:
• The notes were more a souvenir than a currency.
• It would work if all businesses gave a discount, say, 10%.
• People do not like new ideas and change.
• The pound was a positive thing for Hawick.
• It raised the profile of local businesses.
• Good publicity for the town.
• It created a talking point.
• Promoted local spending.
Again, the feedback document contained this interesting lesson: "The involvement of the public is key. The traders understand the importance of keeping money in the local economy by using the independent shops, but for the man in the street, the benefit needs to be immediate and tangible. Although the scheme offered a 5% discount for those buying and using the notes, this was not enough to convince most people to use them … or the saving was not immediate enough. Would it be possible for shops to offer discounts for those using the notes? How would that be financed?"
By having a short end date printed on the notes, the directors avoided the dangers of unknown liabilities due to unknown amounts of future redemptions during the trial. Sadly, though, owing to insecurity within the group about such liabilities and any associated risks, the project closed at the end of its trial. Despite appealing for volunteers to help with the group, no second issue nor higher value notes were printed.
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