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Gimme some change

Charlotte is one of four cities testing new $1 coins



Charlotte, you are America, now spend these dollar coins.

Love and kisses,

The U.S. Mint

The U.S. Mint wants to people to spend money differently; it's urging you to drop the paper dollar and use the gold $1 coins.

The Mint selected Charlotte as one of four "all-American" cities to participate a pilot program that it hopes will start a new trend in money by pushing consumers to use the coins in everyday transactions.

"Charlotte embraces a spirit of looking forward, one that searches for new ways of doing things," Mint spokesman Michael White said in an e-mail to Creative Loafing. "Charlotte can help lead the nation in accepting and using the $1 coin."

During the next four months, White said, Charlotte residents will see advertisements and promotions, as well as increased retailer use, to promote the $1 coin. The program also includes Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; and Grand Rapids, Mich.

But do consumers and retailers really want to change?

So far, the dollar coins don't seem to be catching on.

Khaisha Scott, manager of Circle K on South Boulevard near Scaleybark Road, said customers don't want the golden coins. They want green cash.

"At the end of my day, my drawer is filled with all the dollar coins and I have to take them to the bank," she said. And even though her drawer maybe filled with $30 worth of coins, she's only able to take $10 in change to deposit daily at the bank.

When customers balk at getting a coin instead of a dollar, her cashiers don't argue, they just give the people what they want. "We try to get rid of them, but a lot of people won't take them," Scott said. "But some people do take them and they say that they're holding on to them or collecting them."

Dollar coins aren't new. The coins have been in circulation for years but just haven't been used interchangeably with paper money. The $1 coin offers people speed and convenience when used at grocery stores, restaurants and movie theaters, or when these coins are dropped into vending machines, parking meters or Charlotte Area Transit System fare boxes.

Chad Goodwin, manager of The Gentleman's Club on Woodlawn Road, said that the $1 coin doesn't work so well in his club. But because the club is so close to a light rail station, people often come in with the golden coins.

"It has good uses for machines, instead of trying to fit a dollar bill in, but you run into problems when you have a third party that has to cash them in because they have to carry them," he said. "It's something a little harder to carry around if you don't have a lot of pockets."

The Mint has a lot of coins to get into circulation: More than one billion new $1 coins have been minted since 2007. White said the Charlotte region has received more than 2 million Andrew Jackson $1 coins.

The durability of the coins mean widespread usage could potentially save the United States billions of dollars, U.S. Mint director Ed Moy said in a news release: "When each of us spends the $1 coin, we make a difference for our country."

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