Local News

Collectors, Wal-Mart Shoppers Socking Away Sacagawea Coins

Posted February 10, 2000

— Penny for your thoughts? How about a golden dollar coin? The new coins are out and collectors are snatching them up.

The new dollar coins are theU.S. Mint'slatest attempt to circulate an alternative to the dollar bill.

The coins feature the likeness ofSacagawea, the young native American woman who assisted Lewis and Clark.

The government is enlisting the help of the nation's largest retailer to get Americans interested in the coins. So far, it is working.

"I think they're different," says customer John Troyano. "When the Susan B. Anthony coin first came out, they didn't last too long. But I think these will go a little bit further."

Anyone who pays with cash at Wal-Mart stores will get the new coins back as part of their change.

The stores are also willing to trade the coins for dollar bills, but most stores are imposing a limit. That is because the new coins are so popular that the Wal-Mart in Garner sold out of its first shipment of 10,000 in the first five days.

"I think a lot of people are collecting them," says Karen King of Wal-Mart. "We had a lot of grandparents in here trying to collect them for each grandbaby. You know, they want one or more for each grandchild they have."

It seems the people who like the coins plan to save them. Many people do not think it would be worth it to actually use them.

"They're going to take up more room in my change purse," says customer Pat Benhnke. "Now, I usually send money to the kids. Where do I put this coin?"

The government believes putting the coins in vending machines or using them at registers will enrich commerce. But so far, the people pocketing them are just hoping one day they will be worth their weight in gold.

The gold coins are not real gold. They are made up of copper, zinc, manganese and nickel. They are available at Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and in specially-marked boxes of Cheerios cereal.

After the current two-month promotion, they will be available everywhere.


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