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$2 Bills Hold Novelty Niche in Pierre, S.D.

November 15, 1998|From Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. — Plunk down a $2 bill in most places and a suspicious cashier may tell you funny money just won't fly. In Pierre, deuces are common currency.

A bar and a department store unload twos on customers like the odd, even-numbered bills are going out of style.

The practice began in 1952 when father and son Vern and Bob Marso opened a downtown beer parlor and decided that giving the uncommon legal tender as change would be a clever way to advertise.

The $2 bills have never stopped flowing from the till, said Jackie Marso, current owner of Marso's Bar and Lounge.

"I go through hundreds of them every week," she said. "A lot of people are surprised when they get a two. They say, 'Look, a $2 bill. I haven't seen that forever.' "

Dakotamart, where you can buy everything from bananas to a .357-caliber Magnum pistol, turned to twos after the government printed a new batch of the bills in 1976, said store president Al Kundert.

"It is not only convenient to use them, but they ended up being our trademark," Kundert said. "When somebody has a $2 bill, they automatically associate it with us."

Of all the $2 notes supplied to the state last quarter, 61% went to Bank West in Pierre, said the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

And nearly all of those bills go to Marso's and Dakotamart, said Bank West President Charles Burke III.

There are 573 million $2 bills in circulation nationally, compared with nearly 6.5 billion $1 bills, a Federal Reserve spokesman said.

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