GREAT FALLS — While many people are choosing to stay home for the holidays, financial experts say local economies depend on the season of giving to make ends meet.
Since pandemic-related restrictions hit, Toole County Forward, a community-funded grant program, has distributed more than $150,000 to struggling area business owners.
They started a coin token program several months back that encourages residents to shop local. 250 wooden coins were distributed to businesses in Toole County.
Founder Dwaine Iverson told MTN News this isn't the first time the community has banded together to support the area's economy.
The token program was inspired by an effort in Shelby years ago.
“In the 30’s the Larson family had a big department store in Shelby and they saw there was a need (to shop local), so they made metal ones at that time about 10 so they gave them to farmers so they would come and shop in Shelby,” he said. “It was something that was successful so we felt that was a good thing to look at again.”
They're continuing the token tradition as Toole County residents start to shop for the holidays.
Merchants will distribute coins to the tenth shopper who comes into their store on Small Business Saturday. Each token is worth $20 and any money left over from a shopping token is passed on to the next shopper.
For more information, contact Lorette Carter at Shelby City Hall at 406-434-5222, email email@example.com, or click here to visit the Facebook page.