Hurricane business owner gives employees $100 in 2-dollar bills to boost local economy

ST. GEORGE — The Hurricane Valley, which includes Hurricane, LaVerkin and Toquerville, is about to see an influx of two-dollar bills infusing the local economy with much-needed cash.

Stacks of new two-dollar bills sit on a table inside Hurricane Family Pharmacy, Hurricane, Utah, April 20, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Cliff Holt, owner of Hurricane Family Pharmacy, handed out $100 in two-dollar bills to each of his 40 employees Monday with the stipulation that they only spend it at locally-owned businesses and franchises.

The idea has its roots in a popular legend about the rare denomination that claims some United States towns, which had been subjected to a barrage of Navy sailors on leave, had expressed their outrage at how the sailors were tearing up their towns, Holt said.

According to the story, the Navy decided to pay sailors’ wages in two-dollar bills. Once the town noticed how much money the sailors were spending in their local shops, they kind of calmed down, Holt said.

Holt first implemented his version of the buy local two-dollar program when he opened Hurricane Family Pharmacy nearly 11 years ago.

Holt held a staff meeting with his first 12 employees and gave them all 100 two-dollar bills with five rules attached to how the money had to be spent.

The rules were as follows:

  1. They had to spend the money within 30 days.
  2. The money had to be spent at a locally-owned business in the Hurricane Valley.
  3. Employees had to spend the money as cash.
  4. They had to give 10% to charity.
  5. Whenever they were asked about the two-dollar bills, they had to explain what Hurricane Family Pharmacy was doing to support the community.

Zach Forsyth, an employee at Hurricane Family Pharmacy who has been with the business since they opened, said the initial reaction of businesses in the community was interesting because many of them didn’t believe the money was real.

But soon, as employees shared their purpose, people began to recognize where the two-dollar bills were coming from and that pharmacy employees were trying to support local businesses, Forsyth said.

Since that original program, Holt said he has implemented different phases of the idea. The pharmacy keeps two-dollar bills in their cash register as part of one of the phases to give as change. They also did a giveaway once where the first 1,000 customers to come in received a two-dollar bill.

Holt, who gives lectures to pharmacists across the country, has shared his idea with several other business owners, many of whom have been inspired to implement their own buy local programs in their towns.

Signs outside Hurricane Family Pharmacy give directions on how customers can pick up their orders, Hurricane, Utah, April 20, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Fast forwarding to today, Holt said he has been thinking a lot about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the local economy.

While the doors to the pharmacy’s lobby remain locked, Holt said they have been crazy busy filling prescriptions and taking care of the health needs of many of the valley’s residents and beyond.

“We’re doing everything delivery, drive-through or curbside pickup, so it’s putting some pressure on our team,” Holt said.

Because he wanted to do something nice for his employees who have been working so hard, and because he loves the community that has supported his business for over a decade, Holt decided to implement what he called “phase four” of his buy local, two-dollar bill program.

The brand new two-dollar bills were specially ordered in advance and then divided into $100 stacks, Holt said.

The revamped program gives his 40 employees two weeks to spend the $100 at locally-owned businesses in the Hurricane Valley. Though they are not allowed to spend the money at large chain stores, locally-owned franchises are OK.

They still have to spend the money as cash, and this time they have to keep track of where they spend the money and how much they spend at each location. At the end of the two weeks, any two-dollar bills that were not spent have to be returned to Holt.

“I’m probably not going to collect too many of those,” Holt said.

Designated curbside pickup spots are denoted on signs outside Hurricane Family Pharmacy in Hurricane, Utah, April 20, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

As before, if any of his employees are asked about the money, they have to tell people it is just Hurricane Family Pharmacy’s way of supporting local businesses.

“This isn’t about us,” Holt said. “It’s about our community.”

Holt has been working with Nic Lauritzen, president of the Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce, to create a list of locally-owned businesses, which all of the employees will receive with their cash.

“The greatest thing about what he’s doing,” Lauritzen said of Holt, “is he’s taking action rather than just sitting on an idea.”

Lauritzen said that he hopes the idea catches on and that other people who are able to will do something similar.

“We want other people to do it as well and create their own form of it and just kind of keep the kindness and the shop local mentality growing throughout the community,” he said.

But whether it catches on or not, Holt said that giving to his team, and by extension the community, he feels like he is winning.

“My number one priority is my team,” an emotional Holt said. “So for me, any time I can give to my employees, that’s a win.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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