In praise of small-town banking

If you walk down Invermere's main street, you can't help but be struck by the quaintness of the town and its mountain surroundings

If you walk down Invermere’s main street, you can’t help but be struck by the quaintness of the town and its mountain surroundings.

The shops — many of them local stores, cafes or restaurants — are uniformly welcoming. The only odd quirk thing that stands out is the automatic door on one of the banks (the Kootenay Savings Credit Union), which flies open any time a passerby comes with a few feet of it.

The first time it happens, it startles you. Even the second time, it catches you off guard. Eventually you realize the sensor is just a little too sensitive and the odd quirk almost becomes endearing, even if remains puzzling.

Thankfully the bank has a second set of automatic door not far into the building, which helps prevents what otherwise would surely be a big waste of energy, with cool-air conditioned air being pumped out into the hot summer streets.

This unfortunately is a common trend in many, although by no means all, Asian cities — particularly ones in fast-developing parts of Asia with hot, humid climates.

In these cities you literally cool off standing a good 10 metres or more outside the constantly opening doors of mega-malls, airports or movie theatres. Indeed, should you actually want to go inside any of these buidlings, you might find you need to bring a sweater with you.

While the desire to not be uncomfortable is understandable, cranking air conditioners to such a degree is ridiculous. It’s a mind boggling waste of energy to say the least and it surely can’t be cheap.

Unfortunately few local people in these cities seem even slightly perturbed about it.

Perhaps people at small town banks are just that much more thoughtful. Thoughtfulness certainly seemed to be the case during the heavy rains and flooding this past June. The heavy rains had helped put the ATMs in the Bank of Montreal out of commission. The local Bank of Montreal staff kindly stood in the bank lobby explaining the situation to everybody who came in the door, telling them they’d have to go across the road to use the CIBC ATM to get cash and then handing them a toonie to cover the fee that the Bank of Montreal card holders would be charged for using the CIBC ATM.

This is just the kind of small town service, the sort of personal touch that you’d be hard pressed to find in a bigger cities, where people just don’t have (or take) the time to do such things.

Score a point for community banking.