Coin shortage returns, area small businesses feel effects


HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)–Some small businesses in the Richmond area are experiencing another coin shortage, nearly one year after they were pinching pennies earlier in the pandemic.

The Federal Reserve said a temporary cap on coin production was reinstated recently to ensure they were distributed fairly.

“The Federal Reserve continues to work with the United States Mint and others in the industry to keep coins circulating,” the agency said in a statement. “As a first step, a temporary cap was imposed in June 2020 on the orders depository institutions place for coins with the federal reserve to ensure that the supply was fairly distributed. Because coin circulation patterns have not fully returned to pre-pandemic levels, caps were reinstated in May 2021.”

Some local business owners said the effects of the pandemic are coming full circle, as they scrape for more coins. Signs are posted up on the doors of area businesses like the 7Eleven along Mechanicsville Turnpike, Dollar General, Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A.

For some local small businesses, the coin shortage is giving flashbacks to the height of the pandemic last year. Cedric Bullock, the general manager of the Expressway Convenience Stores in Henrico, said the coin shortage making a comeback this summer is forcing them to switch up their routine.

“We usually get it from the bank, but since the shortage, we couldn’t get as much as normal so we have to go maybe once or twice a week to the check-cashing place,” he said.

Although Bullock frequents the check cashing places instead of the bank to get what he needs, it’s still not enough.

“We usually get maybe 30 or 40 dollars now as we go where we used to get up to a couple hundred,” he said.

It’s a similar situation for Frank Pitchford, the owner of Send A Chef in Henrico, who said the coin shortage disrupted years of his rolled coins savings.

“It was like unreal when we ran into problems getting change from the bank. We didn’t have any roll coins or they would limit you to what they could give you,” he said. “I never thought that I would see something like this. Well, I never thought I would see something like this in my lifetime.”

Last year during the initial coin shortage, Pitchford used up three tubs of coins within eight months.

“We’re trying to come back this year, but people aren’t paying attention to the pandemic. They think it’s over with, but it’s far from being over,” Pitchford said.

With no knowledge of when coin production will get back to normal, small business owners are asking customers to give exact change or pay with a card.

“We’ll save as many coins as we can, we’ll adjust our prices,” Bullock said.

Both business owners are hoping the coin production resumes to normal levels soon.

“It’s inconvenient, but I mean at this time there’s nothing else we can do,” Bullock said.

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