Tuesday, January 27, 2015


You'll probably be surprised to hear this, but: I did nothing.

That's right. The Oakland Mills branch of the Columbia Bank is closing, and I did absolutely nothing to prevent its demise.

When you think of all the energy I have spent advocating for The Second Chance Saloon, encouraging folks to try the Food Lion one more time, lauding the efforts of the Oakland Mills Village Staff to make our village a better place--well--it's kind of horrifying to think I let this one pass me by.

My village is losing its only bank, and I did nothing.

Why? Because I had absolutely no idea until I got the letter in the mail.

I know a lot of incredible people in Oakland Mills who send out the call and get to work when it comes to helping neighbors, schools, local businesses and organizations. Am I naive to think we might have been able to help our village bank, had we only known? After all, a place like the Second Chance is a mom and pop operation. The Columbia Bank is merely a purchased entity of the Fulton Financial Group. It stopped being a hometown business quite awhile ago.

Me? I haven't changed. I'm still the same old individual, local customer who wants local, individual service. I haven't changed with the times, I guess. Perhaps if I could have morphed into a more complex organization, I'd be worth negotiating with. And yet...what about their slogan?

The Columbia Bank. Listening is just the beginning.

So, listen to this: my husband has been a Columbia Bank customer from the moment he moved into Oakland Mills. So have I. We have multiple accounts there. We have used them exclusively for our loans. We have recommended them to others. We have encouraged folks to check them out for loan opportunities. And we are the kind of people who actually go into the bank and talk with real human beings. We also use online banking, ATM's and the drive-though. I'd say over 90 per cent of our bank interactions have happened in Oakland Mills.

More importantly, we stayed when they really stopped being the Columbia Bank and were transformed into a product of Fulton Financial. We knew things wouldn't stay the same, but we wanted to support our local branch and we stuck by them. Perhaps this is why I am so ticked off that they are not sticking by us.

So much of any business happens through word of mouth. If The Columbia Bank had been committed to staying in Oakland Mills, might they have reached out to the community for support? Does anyone bigger than a mom and pop even do that these days? I don't know. But I do know that if they had really "been listening", they would have known how important it is to Oakland Mills to keep The Columbia Bank.

"Listening is just the beginning." Yes, and then they obey the bottom line instead. It's a sign of the times I guess. But I don't have to like it. And I really don't like that I wasn't able to do anything about it.






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