For almost 10 years, Verity Credit Union has been on the verge of opening a West Seattle branch. And next year, they really will.
That’s what CEO John Zmolek told WSB this morning. We talked with him after contacting Verity to confirm that it’s taking over the storefront in the West Seattle Junction recently vacated by Radio Shack (4505 California SW).
Yes, right next door to another financial institution (Chase). Isn’t that a little unusual? we asked. Zmolek agrees it is, while saying, “in some ways we think it just contrasts the difference between what banks do and what credit unions can do in a community.” Such as, because credit unions are co-ops, they “keep the money in the community” rather than “siphoning off part of their funds to go to stockholders.”
Verity will be the third credit union to open a new location in West Seattle – all in The Junction (after BECU at The Whittaker [WSB sponsor] and Sound CU at 4730 California) – in xxx. With so much banking happening online, why even open a physical branch? Zmolek says he believes people are still more comfortable making financial decisions – especially major ones like buying a home and investing – after talking with reps face to face. Zmolek says it will also help Verity keep in closer touch with the community rather than “guessing from an ivory tower … or my office.”
As also seems to be a new trend, this branch will not be the traditional stand-in-line-at-a-window. Verity’s forthcoming announcement says it “will feature member service consultants who are untethered from bulky desks and teller lines to serve members from anywhere in the branch with wireless tablets.” The Ballard and Greenwood branches are currently set up that way.
The CEO also says they hope to offer the branch space for community gathering, maybe even opening it – without staff – during the Farmers’ Market, with a front wall that can be “folded back.”
Meantime, the branch will have an ATM (Verity belongs to the Co-Op network, serving members of many other credit unions). Due to the city’s permit-process backlog, they’re not expecting to be able to start work on the space until next spring, opening the branch next summer.
–Tracy Record, West Seattle Blog editor