In the midst of all the pollical noise of the past month or so it would be understandable if you had not heard about the Chase Bank branch in the Banksville section of Greenwich planning to close. At the very top of North Street sits a cluster of businesses that make up a vibrant and important business community for the backcountry. It is a great place to visit.
We have always been strong supporters of local businesses. They are the cornerstone of our economy and help give our community its sense of self. Who doesn’t like to walk into a local business and have them welcome you by name, even when you are wearing a mask? It makes you feel good.
The businesses in Banksville, of which there are about 50 all told, are like that. They know their customers and value their customers. The branch of Chase Bank located there was the same as well, welcoming customers by name. When the decision to close the branch and move its operations to Bedford was made it was done in a corporate office far from this community for business reasons that surely made sense at the time.
Fortunately, when the decision to close the branch was announced the closeness of the business community in Banksville worked in its favor. A petition drive was launched. Businesses and customers were mobilized to lobby Chase executives to keep the branch open. Led by Easy Kelsey who owns a well-known back-country horse farm, the effort picked up steam through the early fall.
It was great to stop into some of the local businesses and see their enthusiasm for the effort. Whenever we would stop into the Back Country Market (pretty much weekly) which is owned by Christine Tegtmeier Salazar and her brother Tom, we would overhear excited conversations about what other businesses or individuals had signed the petition or called a Chase executive. It was a grass roots effort at its very best. It was positive.
The campaign to save the bank was about community and the vital role the bank plays in the community. An executive in New York City who decides where a branch would be located would not know about that sense of community unless they visited. And that is exactly what happened. An executive came to explore the funky little hamlet that straddles Greenwich and the New York border.
What they found was a tightknit community where everyone knew everyone’s name, where the bank employees knew their patrons by name. They visited other businesses in the area to ask about their banking experience. What they heard must have, at first, sounded alien to a New York City executive. After all, how many big city bank employees know their patrons by name? In the middle of a pandemic to see the friendliness and care shown by customers of the market would seem in stark contrast to the rioting going on in cities across the country.
But the bank executive did see it. They saw it all: the vibrancy, the inter-dependability of businesses and individuals, and most importantly the community and how important it is for the branch of the bank to continue to be a part of that community. The result is a five-year lease has been signed.
Congratulations Banksville, you did it right. In a time when negativity is the go-to emotion and communication style, you were positive and affected positive change for all involved. That is rare to see these days and it is refreshing.