A “Novel ” Idea Helping Tenino, Washington Through COVID-19

Tenino, Washington residents have a novel idea to help businesses through COVID-19.

Wooden currency.

Originally conceived during the Great Depression, residents in the town are given $300 a month in wooden money to spend in the town.

The currency is good only in Tenino, but is helping residents and businesses.

Just about every business in town, from the gas station and auto-body shop to Don Juan’s Mexican Kitchen, is accepting the wooden scrip. The currency, made of maple veneer, is about the thickness, size and flexibility of an index card and printed on the same 1890s-era press that once printed the Depression currency and the local newspaper.

However, it can’t be used to buy things like tobacco, alcohol or marijuana.

The businesses can redeem the scrip for real dollars at City Hall — or sell them on the side. Some merchants said they’ve been offered three times the face value from coin collectors around the country.

“The city could have given out debit cards or cash, but we don’t know where that money is going to go,” said Tyler Whitworth, past president of the local chamber of commerce. “This is one of the ways we could keep the money here in the community.”

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