Clean out the wishing wells and raid the piggy banks.

Add coins — you know, change — to the national shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“What’s happened is that with the partial closure of the economy, the flow of coins through the economy, it has gotten all — it’s kind of stopped,” Jerome H. Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, testified before Congress last month.

“We’ve been aware of it, we’re working with the Mint to increase supply, we’re working with the reserve banks to get the supply to where it needs to be,” he said.

The New York Times reported that the Fed began to ration its coin supply on June 15, “giving banks a portion of their requested change supply depending on what they had historically requested, among other factors, a move that the central bank says is a ‘temporary measure’.”

The shortage of pennies, nickles, dimes, quarters and half dollars has reached Owensboro, banks say.

And they’re encouraging people to bring in their loose change and exchange it for folding money.

One problem has been that many bank lobbies, where coin-counting machines are located, have been closed by the pandemic.

But several local restaurants and retailers contacted Monday said they haven’t noticing a shortage of coins.

Not even Robert Osborne at the Big Dipper, 2820 W. Parrish Ave.

His business has been cash only for 66 years. Credit cards are not accepted.

“The bank has been taking care of us,” Osborne said. “We haven’t had a problem.”

At Price Less Foods, 1731 Scherm Road, Steve Wilkerson, assistant manager, said, “We were having a problem a couple of weeks ago, but we took everything the bank would give us. We’re fine now.”

At Meijer, 2951 Heartland Crossing, Amy in Customer Care said the self checkouts are taking only credit and debit cards because of the coin shortage.

But the staffed checkout stations are accepting cash, she said.

Amy Jackson, regional president of German American Bank, said she’s seeing the shortage.

“We’ve been working with employees and customers, who have excess change on hand, to encourage them to bring it in and exchange it,” she said. “At our South Frederica location, we have a coin counting machine that can take large amounts of coin and count it. We will also accept rolled coin at all our locations.”

At Truist Bank, formerly BB&T, Dawn Holton, branch coordinator, said, the bank got a letter from the Fed last month saying that coin supplies were low and the situation could last several weeks or even months.

She said the mint had decreased coin production because of the pandemic and banks were told they may receive fewer coins than usual for up to two months.

“We’re asking people to bring in their spare change,” Holton said. “Rolling coin could be something fun for kids to do.”

She said most local branches had a good supply of coins when this started.

“We should be good for the next two to three weeks,” Holton said.

Coin shortages happen from time to time.

But in May 1974, the shortage of pennies was so bad that the manager of the old Mr. Wiggs store in Wesleyan Park Plaza began offering $1.10 for 100 pennies.

He collected 98,500 pennies in four days.

And Zeno Weir, owner of Weir’s Drugs downtown, topped that with an offer of $1.25.

So far, nobody is offering more than face value for coins in Owensboro this year.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301

klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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