Could “Coventry Cash” revive Coventry Street Fair?
Organizers of the Coventry Street Arts Fair should consider an idea that could help any future fairs be both safe for individuals and successful for local businesses.
What about a "federal-cash-for-Coventry-Cash" entry fee exchange? Charge $5 to enter the fair. In exchange, each entrant would receive $5 worth of Coventry Cash—coupons redeemable for food or merchandise that day at any participating business or vendor.
How would this plan increase individual safety and business success?
Many of the safety problems from last year's fair were connected to a large number of people from outside the area who descended on Coventry in a short period of time. Such a scenario would be less likely to occur if every individual had to pass through one of a few designated entrances. Having to pay an entrance fee might also deter out-of-area visitors who wouldn’t see the value of Coventry Cash since they aren’t connected to our local community and businesses.
For businesses, the local “cash” in the hands of fairgoers would likely be spent, and then some. Since Coventry Cash would be good only on Coventry on that day, the program would probably not only increase sales, but also build awareness of local businesses. It might also help plant a few seeds of the idea that there could be advantages of establishing some kind of local money that can only circulate within our local area, facilitating local transactions to help local merchants and our local community.
To offset costs associated with printing the local money, the "exchange rate" could be set up so $5 in federal cash buys $4 in Coventry Cash.
For anyone who couldn’t afford to spend $5 at the fair, any unspent Coventry Cash could be redeemed for federal cash upon exit—which would be another deterrent to unruly behavior.
While the details can certainly be revised, the concept is one that very well could work to the benefit of individuals, merchants and the community.
Greg Coleridge is the director of the Economic & Political Justice Program for the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Commitee.