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Thursday, May 6, 2010

No tears for those guys

Just a stone's throw from our house, where the nice corner grocery used to be, there's been a bank branch for a number of years now. I have not set foot in the place since circa 2001, when they stopped selling baby food there, nor have I ever seen an actual customer walk in or out the door of the bank since it was converted. There have been a couple of different financial institutions in that spot, as I recall, the most recent being something called Frontier Bank.

That set of signs is about to come down, however, as Frontier has gone under and been taken over by Union Bank. There's a Union banner hastily strung up over the ATM this week.

I wonder if the new owners will keep that branch open. Or if they don't, whether anyone but the bank workers will miss it.

Comments (3)

I lived a couple blocks away on Regents Drive in the 1970’s to early eighties. The grocery store was called Brandel’s Market. It was a full service grocery; they had great meats and produce. Across the street where Garden Fever is was the start of Nature’s. Perry’s parking lot was a Standard Oil gas station; Perry’s was called Hamburger Patties and was on 43rd and Fremont. Where their building stands was an empty gas station. Things haven’t change for the better, that’s for sure.

We had a big run of that here in Dallas, too. Family-run restaurants and shops one day, gaping holes the next, and monolith banks on the third. What depresses me to no end is with the number of banks (WaMu and Capital One at the top of the list) that went insane with opening up new branches, buying up spaces for three and four times what the land was worth a couple of years before, and opening up new branches for a couple of months. Now, so many of them are empty, and there's simply no way they can be converted to other uses. I'm not even going to start with the greedheads who figured that $5000 cash and big connections in Washington would get them stinking rich.

Around the corner from my PO box is a dead WaMu branch that's actually beautiful. The design is understated, it has a very attractive Western mural on the front, and it replaced a decrepit bank that had been empty since the first Bush Recession in the early Nineties. It was finally completely cleared out about two months ago, and the only sign on it is a "For Sale" sign. If it's like the other WaMu branch about four miles north, it's going to be up for sale for a long, long time.

WaMu built a brand new bank branch close to where I work right before their crash and acquisition by Chase. It was only 200 feet away from a perfectly good branch they were already operating - trouble was, it didn't fit their idea of the future, so they tore it down, put up a temporary trailer for operations, and built a brand new one.

And what was their idea of the future? They pooled their people out on the floor at stand-up desks, and you simply go to the next one availabe and transact business there one-on-one. No teller window. No bulletproof glass. And no cash at the desk, at least from them - you had to go to a machine afterward. Pretty low key. And I'm sure it wasn't very efficient from their standpoint.

Then Chase takes over, and this all goes out into the trash heap within 8 months of being installed, in favor of going back to essentially what was there before - normal teller windows, bulletproof glass, and cash at the window.

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