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Businesses promote Middlebury Money

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury business owners are hoping to bank a lot of the “green stuff” this holiday season.
And we’re not just talking about cash.
Local retail boosters are encouraging shoppers, diners and merchants to put more “Middlebury Money” in circulation.
Launched around a decade ago, Middlebury Money is a check that can be used for transactions anywhere in Middlebury. It is drawn off a bank account at National Bank of Middlebury that is owned by the Better Middlebury Partnership. The BMP is a civic organization dedicated to the economic vitality of Middlebury’s downtown and the prosperity of the community as a whole.
“It’s an easy way to keep Middlebury alive and vibrant,” Nancy Malcolm, co-chairperson of the Neighbors Together citizens group, said of Middlebury Money.
“This is not a new idea.”
While Middlebury Money has been around since at least 2008, there was a feeling that the program had been “coasting,” according to Malcolm. So with the holiday season approaching and the most challenging segment of a downtown rail bridges project on the horizon, Neighbors Together and the BMP believe this is the right time to re-energize the Middlebury Money program as a way to support local businesses.
“It’s win-win,” Malcolm said of the program.
Malcolm and fellow Neighbors Together Co-chairperson Linda Horn recently sent a letter to local businesses urging them to become more invested in Middlebury Money. They urged business leaders to use Middlebury Money for employee recognitions, bonuses, or other gifts.
“This way the recipient could spend it on anything they want, such as a dinner out, groceries, or pay a water bill,” the letter states.
Here are some more details about Middlebury Money:
•  It can be purchased in denominations of $5, $10, $20, and $50 at any Middlebury branch of the National Bank of Middlebury. Plans call for Middlebury Money to soon be available at the Bundle pop-up store at 51 Main St., and at Sweet Cecily at 42 Main St.
•  If the shopper doesn’t spend the full amount of their Middlebury Money note in his or her transaction, the shopper will get the remainder back as cash back.
•  It can be spent at almost all businesses in Middlebury, large or small, retail or service. It can be used to buy socks, groceries, a restaurant meal, or even as payment for one’s Middlebury water bill.
•  Since Middlebury Money is an actual check, it can be treated the same way as a personal check.
The National Bank of Middlebury has been carefully tracking progress of the Middlebury Money program. Statistics provided by the bank show:
•  A combined total of $28,240 in Middlebury Money was purchased in 2016, and $27,510 of the “currency” was redeemed at area businesses.
•  In 2017, a total of $21,130 was purchased and $24,360 redeemed.
•  In 2018, a total of $26,935 was purchased and $25,580 was redeemed.
•  Thus far in 2019, a total of $6,060 in Middlebury Money was purchased, and $11,830 has thus far been redeemed. It should be noted that November and December are two of the biggest months for Middlebury Money transactions, so the 2019 numbers should grow appreciably before the books close on the year.
Sweet Cecily owner Nancie Dunn is a big fan of Middlebury Money — so much so that she will be purchasing a bunch to make available to her customers. She knows those dollars will stay in the community and benefit her fellow Middlebury merchants.
“I think it’s a great program, and I think there’s a real push this Christmas to have it used even more,” Dunn said. “I think the ease of using it makes it fun.”
More information about Middlebury Money can be found at experiencemiddlebury.com.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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