Berlin store makes its mark with unconventional change

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 4:05 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 26, 2020 at 12:53 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - With President Thomas Jefferson on the front and a painting of the Declaration of Independence on the back, the two-dollar bill has the reputation of being rare, even though it’s still in circulation. Scott Fleishman found one convenience store and deli in Berlin where the bills -- and an uncommon coin -- have more than just face value.

It’s another busy lunch rush at the Maplewood rest stop off I-89 in Berlin. Along with sandwiches and coffee, some customers are receiving a neat green treat. “We never run out of them,” said Kevin Lecompte, an employee at the store.

I often come here to get lunch. Normally, I pay using my debit card, but a couple of weeks ago, I used cash and I was surprised to see in my change, a couple of $2 bills and a 50-cent piece. I thought it was odd, so I posted a picture of my change on my Facebook page and a few of my friends responded. WIthout saying anything, they knew exactly that I got the change here at Maplewood, and I guess that’s the point.

“We give them out. It’s our calling card,” Lecompte said. The tradition of giving the unusual currency was started by Doug Hill when he built the small store in 1985.

“His theory was, if you get a $2 bill or a 50 cent piece, no matter where you go, they’ll know where it came from or they’ll have to ask you where you got it and that’s just good advertising,” said Wayne Lamberton the store’s current owner. About 12 years ago he stopped using the tradition for about a month. “People were asking where the $2 bills went, so it’s certainly popular with many people.”

“It’s like an attraction for people to come in here and get a $2 bill,” said David Larrabeem who has been collecting the unique change at Maplewood ever since the original store opened. He pays in cash just so he can get the bills. “I give them to my kids. They like them.”

“A lot of people like to have them. We even have customers that come in and say, ‘Hey, can I get $20 worth of $2 bills from you?’” Lecompte said. He believes each register hands out about 50 $2 bills a day. They’re on order three days a week and provided by a local bank.

“I think they plan for us, because we’ve been doing it a long time and we pick them up every day,” Lamberton said.

We should all take note of this popular stop, where it’s proven sometimes a little change can be pretty special.

According to the website, the first printing of $2 bills was in 1862, Initially, featuring Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson replaced him in 1869. Production was discontinued in 1966, only to be reissued 10 years later as a Federal Reserve Note with a new reverse design.

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