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Trade tokens a new form of currency on Hornby Island

Jim Bulmer hopes his tokens will turn a profit for the community
Jim Bulmer and his wife, Barbara Froehner, sell the Hornby Island trade tokens at the Hornby Island Farmers’ Market every Wednesday and Saturday. Photo supplied.

You now have two forms of currency to choose from when shopping on Hornby Island.

In an effort to keep the community alive and thriving, Hornby Island trade tokens have been released not only as a unique collectors’ item, but also as a way to raise money for both the businesses and the community fund.

Jim Bulmer, the creator of the tokens and a coin collector himself, says he came up with the idea after moving to the Island with his wife last year and was amazed by the sense of community.

“We plan to be there for the next 120 years, so this is kind of ‘buying in,’ in a way that I can do,” he laughs.

Bulmer designed the tokens and funded the project himself, investing $8,000 of his own money to print 1,000 tokens and collectible pins.

Each token costs visitors $20 and can also be redeemed for $20 at participating businesses on the Island. Each time a token is bought, the business will make a small profit, but the majority of the proceeds will go to the Hornby Island Community Fund to support local committees. Proceeds will also be used to pay for the cost of the tokens.

While approximately half of the businesses on the Island are accepting and selling the tokens, Bulmer’s vision is that every business will get involved so that the whole community can start benefitting from it.

The tokens were released in May 2018, although the idea is still causing some confusion. Stephen Bishop, with the Sea Breeze Lodge, says they have sold four tokens, but he’s not sure about the viability of the idea.

“I don’t know how successful it will be to sell, but you know, they are beautiful coins,” he says. “So if people catch on to them and like them and we sell a bunch of them, then it’s a great idea.”

While the coins are beginning to catch on with tourist season underway, some businesses are still not carrying or accepting them, including Hornby Island Winery.

John Grayson, owner of Hornby Island Winery, says they believe it’s a good idea, but it just doesn’t fit with the nature of their business.

“We decided not to give them out or accept them, simply because they are not appropriately matched to what we sell,” he says.

Bulmer says 80 tokens have been sold across the Island so far and there are already plans for next year’s campaign. The current tokens are valid until October, 2018.