The Bank of Greene County, which soft-opened its newest branch in Woodstock’s Bradley Meadows shopping plaza on Mill Hill Road this past week and will be hosting a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 22, prides itself on being not only the most local of Hudson Valley banks, but also one of its better leveraged homes for all sorts of banking, from the personal to that for local towns, counties and school districts. Founded in 1889 as The Building and Loan Association of Catskill, it gained its current name, and organizational structure, in 1998. Woodstock is its 15th branch office, and second in Ulster County.
“We like to stay local as the big banks leave the rural markets. We really like the rural markets,” said CEO and President Don Gibson as the culmination of a journey through the bank’s various home buildings along Catskill’s Main Street, where it’s preserved a number of the old river town and county seat’s early 20th century architectural landmarks over the past 20 years. “Online is huge for us, about 90 percent of our business, but we have also found that when we track our markets by rural postal routes, we find that a lot of people still feel they need to have an office they can visit for their banking needs within 10 miles. It’s like a safety blanket, a sense that one’s money is personal and they want to know the people handling it. The same’s true of a lot of millennials, and we suspect new people moving into the area who want a different experience, in banking as well as their everyday leaves, than what they had in the City, in Brooklyn.”
Gibson pointed out that what Bank of Greene County was offering Woodstockers was different from what Bradley Meadows’ previous tenant, Bank of America, offered. Furthermore, by being the only local bank to be able to handle municipal accounts as well as the personal and commercial, it’s value would be appreciated in northern Ulster County, especially when one considered the fact that they’re already the county’s official bank.
Justin Goldman, the bank’s Business Development Specialist, spoke about the importance Bank of Greene County’s commercial bank charter, its means of using municipal bonds for collateralization of its municipal clients, and how long many of the bank’s employees have been on board…including ownership of bank shares.
“It’s our service that sets us apart,” he said. “People have been signing on to our Woodstock branch from the moment we announced we would be moving in… People are yearning for a more local community feel. From creating jobs, paying taxes, putting money out there on the street…everything we do is local.”
Both Goldman and Gibson expressed excitement about Saturday’s opening events, which will include a chicken barbecue, photo booth, WDST Radio Woodstock live broadcasting, make your own tie-dye, and t-shirt giveaways. At noon there’ll be a ribbon cutting with town and county officials, plus representation from the local and county chambers of commerce.
Goldman pointed out how the inside of the new branch, which takes up half the size of the old Bank of America, is featuring Adirondack chairs and birch side tables, plus plenty of old local photos (the other half of the space is being used for storage for the next year, after which it will be rented out for businesses compatible with the bank and nearby Sunflower Natural Foods).
In addition, the bank will offer no transaction fees on its Woodstock branch ATM — for anyone — throughout its coming first year of local business. Gibson and Goldman added that there would also be random $50 bills thrown in to the ATM…talk about luck!
“We also do old-style student accounts,” Gibson added, speaking about options that include old-style savings account passbooks. “Slow and steady has always been our motto…”