I suppose the closing was inevitable due to changing customer “banking preferences and behaviors,” as the Oct. 2 letter stated. I’m sure the move to online banking has reduced the need for live tellers. Though I’ve never done it, I guess borrowers can get loans without darkening the bank’s doors, too.
Nonetheless, I am saddened to learn those at the corner of 65 and 32 will no longer be open. I’ve enjoyed the smiles and personal service of dozens of bank staffers over the years — almost all local folks — under several successive banners.
To be clear, US Bank is not closing — just the Buffalo branch, and maybe others I don’t know of. I don’t have to change banks, and if I need to talk to a live teller or loan officer I suppose I can go to Bolivar. Most likely I won’t move any accounts. It’s too complicated, and US Bank is the fifth-largest bank in the country, with multitudes of locations.
But, none of them are as handy as the corner of 65 and 32.
So, I fully intend to move my safe deposit box. I have accounts and friends in two other Buffalo banks. I don’t have much of value to guard — just papers — but I don’t want to make a nearly 40-mile round trip to fetch a car title or birth certificate.
Of course, what that means to US Bank is instead of familiar, smiling faces, they’ll be reduced to an address on official stationery and the logo on my debit card. Period.
What may seem to US Bank executives a simple and logical business decision actually carries a wealth of sentimental baggage for some of us. I was close to the branch in Buffalo when it was founded in 1980 as Buffalo Bank by a group of local investors. I attended the contentious licensing hearings in the courthouse, watched the building go up and took pictures of the board of directors and staff when it was dedicated. As the newspaper editor, I knew every employee in the bank.
Over time, the bank operated as Buffalo Bank, Southwest Bank, FirstStar, Mercantile and finally US Bank. I can’t cite all of the business changes or mergers; I just know I had to order new checks for all of those. For about half of the 40 years I’ve been banking at 65 and 32, the US Bank banner has flown.
I have no idea what will be there next. It saddens me, though, to imagine the dream launched by a group of community-minded business folk in 1980 reduced to another vacant building. It’s not just a bank branch closing in Buffalo; it’s another death of a community leader, another pillar falling.
And I hate to see it happen.
Jim Hamilton is a freelance writer and former editor of the Buffalo Reflex. Contact him at email@example.com. Copyright James E. Hamilton, 2020. Find his latest essay collection, Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, at your local newspaper office.