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July 27, 2009 4:45 PM   Subscribe

That's it. I am moving my all my money to Oakwood! The tiny town north of Houston has just three employees and not a single computer. It has no voice mail and no ATMs. This is the smallest bank in the USA. Still going strong.
posted by shockingbluamp (40 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
At lunchtime, which is the only time most people are able to conveniently conduct their banking business, even the largest bank in the world has only three employees.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:53 PM on July 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


So if all of this bank's customers attempted to withdraw their money at once that would be...a bank walk? Stroll? Meander?
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:58 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It'll scale. No problem.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:05 PM on July 27, 2009


More like withdrawl, amirite?

Just kidding. I enjoyed this.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:06 PM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Salaries and employee benefits $30,000

Uh? For 3 employees? I didn't see any dividends either. Wow.
posted by geoff. at 5:07 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like that he takes vacation every year at the same time, to the same place, and stays in the same room.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:07 PM on July 27, 2009


You're thinking of this place all wrong. As if I had the money back in a safe. The money's not here. Your money's in Joe's house; that's right next to yours. And in the Kennedy house, and Mrs. Macklin's house, and a hundred others. Why, you're lending them the money to build, and then, they're going to pay it back to you as best they can.
posted by swift at 5:07 PM on July 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


North of Houston? That sounds odd. I'd say east of Waco, maybe, or south of Dallas...
posted by jschu at 5:11 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Too small to fail!
posted by YoBananaBoy at 5:23 PM on July 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


"All they know is how to punch that button on that computer."

Yeah, that really jibes well with the fact that you just said you don't think you could learn how to use a computer, lady. Fucking jackass, putting people down for no reason other than your own self-perceived inadequacies. Fuck you, lady.

Disclaimer: When I was a child, there were at least three "adults" who would often put me down for exactly this reason: I knew how to use a computer. Two of them would do it in the same way as this lady: Snidely and dismissively, and literally saying things just like she did: "All you know how to do is push a button." The third wasn't snide and dismissive; rather, the third was angry and yelling, and would supplement "All you know how to do is push a button" with "BEEP BEEP BOOP BEEP BEEP BEEP".

I understand now that they felt threatened and inadequate, and were really quite pitiful. But I was a goddamn child. Not even pubescent. I had no idea why these "adults" were actively trying to make me feel bad. What the hell did I ever do to them? Why the hell did they care if I used a computer or not? Fucking assholes. The three of them and this fucking lady. Fuck you, lady.

This long-repressed painful childhood memory brought to you by Commodore International, makers of the fabulous Commodore Vic-20!
posted by Flunkie at 5:31 PM on July 27, 2009 [31 favorites]


This is hardcore. Every once in awhile I run into someone like the very high class jeweller in Metairie who as late as 2002 was doing all their business on an Applie ][ but to be running a bank and the only computer in the building is the one the Fed makes you keep, that's special.
posted by localroger at 5:33 PM on July 27, 2009


North of Houston? That sounds odd. I'd say east of Waco, maybe, or south of Dallas...

Never mind that, thanks to your map, I now know there's a Latexo, Texas.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:35 PM on July 27, 2009


And I'm taking all my cash out of Oakwood, now! Fucking lady.
posted by Flunkie at 5:37 PM on July 27, 2009


Hey she probably makes less than $10k a year so I think you've already won.
posted by geoff. at 5:38 PM on July 27, 2009


Joakim Ziegler: Never mind that, thanks to your map, I now know there's a Latexo, Texas.
Don't forget Ark-La-Tex.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 5:39 PM on July 27, 2009


This might be the saddest thing.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:39 PM on July 27, 2009


localroger: "but to be running a bank and the only computer in the building is the one the Fed makes you keep, that's special."

I think it's kinda cool. If their current system is working out for them, and their employees (all 3 of them) know how to do whatever needs to get done, rock on. If it ain't broke, don't fix it—especially if the 'fix' is going to be a black box that nobody knows how to repair when it acts up.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:45 PM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Button pushing story:

One time in Eugene, OR we were giving a friend of a friend a ride to a bar. He was drunk and getting a little ornery. We were listening to electro and he kept yelling that it was stupid button-pusher music, as this song was playing.

He also gave us directions that started with (waving arm in a forward motion) "First, drive through these three red lights."
posted by snofoam at 5:51 PM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


also, when they say, sure they could modernize, they just don't want to, i don't believe them.
posted by snofoam at 5:52 PM on July 27, 2009


How do they even stay afloat? What are they doing with deposited money?
posted by Burhanistan at 6:00 PM on July 27, 2009


What are they doing with deposited money?
They use it to crush the souls of innocent children.
posted by Flunkie at 6:06 PM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


You'll have to pry this bank from their cold, dead hands. I'm guessing that'll be a few years, tops.
posted by snofoam at 6:08 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


So if all of this bank's customers attempted to withdraw their money at once that would be...a bank walk? Stroll? Meander?

I ain't really that great at reading call reports, but if there were a bank run on these guys ... they might actually survive it, It's a Wonderful Life style. They've got around $2.6 million in deposits, and $3.4 million in assets (or so). But they only have $108,000 in net loans outstanding. (You can play with the numbers yourself here.)

Pretty much everything else is (a) the building and equipment, and (b) $2.4 million in Treasury securities. That's a really tiny bank*, and treasuries are pretty liquid, so they could probably sell them off to meet just about any withdrawal demand. But when a balance sheet is that conservative ...

There are boulders in Texas more likely to see a run on their deposits than this bank.

*You can't even start a bank with less than around ~$12 million in capital these days, and likely you'll need even more than that.
posted by thecaddy at 6:14 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


See this is like battlestar galactica when they didn't have networked computers and the cylons couldn't put a virus on it or whatever so they lived. This bank will be here after the looming zombie apocalypse. That lady Flunkie hates will be laughing, LAUGHING at our plight. Mark my words.
posted by disclaimer at 6:14 PM on July 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's a cute little Luddite bank. I'm sure there are millions of Americans or other people around the planet who would much prefer a bank like this, small, understandable, personal, unpretentious, predictable, what they have been familiar with for decades, something that seems reasonably trustworthy, not newfangled, not any hype. Just simply a bank.

If I lived there I'd be happy to use this bank.
posted by nickyskye at 6:21 PM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


How do they even stay afloat? What are they doing with deposited money?

Here's what I've come up with so far (I've been running numbers all day out of an accounting program and I'm kind of in the zone):


Income:
Total interest and fee income on loans $4,000
U.S. Treasury securities and U.S. Government agency obligations (excluding mortgage backed securities) $14,000

Total interest income: $18k

Service charges on deposit accounts $8,000
Rent and other income from other real estate owned $59,000
Money Orders & Check Cashing Fees $2,000

Total noninterest income: $69000

Total income: $87k <----

Expenses:

Printing, Stationary $1,000
Postage $1,000
Legal fees and expenses $4,000
Insurance & Bonds $1,000
Misc. $3,000
Salaries and employee benefits: $30,000
Fixed asset expenses: $2,000

Total Expenses: $48,000 (Note: I for the life of I mean can't find a $6k discrepancy, there is no noninterest expense and RI-E only shows $10k, though it should show $16k, the only thing I can think of is that the actual filing is $16k but because of the small amounts, we're not seeing it because of rounding. If someone can find the missing $6k it would help, I've been tearing my hair out)

Taxes: $11,000

Profit: $28,000!

The only thing that's strange is that he appears to be putting all his profit back into retained earnings, which is at $774,000. I don't know what sort of capital reserve requirements a bank this small is suppose to maintain.

I found really interesting how much they hold in t-bills:

Three months or less $401,000
Over three months through 12 months 0
Over one year through three years $199,000
Over three years through five years $1,730,000
Over five years through 15 years. $106,000

And then 0s everywhere else. Hey don't put all your eggs in one basket! Diversify!
posted by geoff. at 6:24 PM on July 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


It bears noting that outside of some small agriculutural loans the biggest earner for the bank is rental income. That's really weird for a bank, obviously. I think they literally must own the entire town.

It is not too often you see a bank's postage equal the amount spent on insurance.
posted by geoff. at 6:26 PM on July 27, 2009


ADAMA DOESN'T LIKE CHANGE.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:30 PM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


So their biggest source of income is rent? They're not a bank, they're a landlord.
posted by localroger at 6:30 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did they do "offsite backups" before there were computers?
posted by smackfu at 6:30 PM on July 27, 2009


North of Houston? That sounds odd. I'd say east of Waco, maybe, or south of Dallas...

Surely, it can be all three.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:33 PM on July 27, 2009


They have a serious problem if the one woman who understands their filing system dies. Kinda sad that they don't seem to have any plans to keep the place running beyond the lives of the remaining employees; they'd need to be training someone now if they did.

It'd be an interesting place to work for someone interested in banking, at least for a while; although the one woman was being snotty about workers at other, more moder banks, I do suspect that working at such a small, low-tech operation would leave you with a far better understanding of how a bank actually operates than working as a CSR in one small department of a huge national bank.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:15 PM on July 27, 2009


I hate to say this, geoff., because your analysis is awesome, but, even in Oakwood, I don't know whether $5000/month in rental income equals owning the town.
posted by box at 7:25 PM on July 27, 2009


I hate to say this, geoff., because your analysis is awesome, but, even in Oakwood, I don't know whether $5000/month in rental income equals owning the town.

I grew up in a town a little bit more than half the size of Oakwood, TX. That number is probably short by an order of magnitude, but the bankers are still probably the major players in town politics.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:35 PM on July 27, 2009


Never mind that, thanks to your map, I now know there's a Latexo, Texas.

There's also a Humble, Texas, which I assume was named after the passage of concealed carry.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:53 AM on July 28, 2009


I do suspect that working at such a small, low-tech operation would leave you with a far better understanding of how a bank actually operates than working as a CSR in one small department of a huge national bank.

If you could afford to work for a salary of $5000 a year plus all the chicken fried steak you can eat.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:35 AM on July 28, 2009


There's also a Humble, Texas, which I assume was named after the passage of concealed carry.

They pronounce it "umble" there (really more like "uhmmble") and it's best seen from the highway at 80MPH.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:38 AM on July 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kind of along nickskye's train of thought, I banked with my local, hometown bank (300 person town, with a few smaller, satellite populations) since I was old enough to get a checking account. Nowhere near as retro as the bank in the link, but it has pretty much the exact same feel. Nothing is automatic, even if things are computerized.

Overdrew my checking once in high school. I didn't notice until a week later when I got a polite phone call 'just letting me know'. No fees, no penalties. They knew who I was, after all, it's not like I was running off with $40.

When I realized my debit card was going to expire while I was in India (where I would need it for emergencies), a week before I left, it took a quick phone call and I had a new one two days later. I sent them a postcard.

I've gone and moved to the big city but I sure as hell miss my smalltown bank. I've been switching everything over (new apartment, electric, mail, and bank accounts) for convenience, since I'll be here for another 4 years at least, and with 3 bank accounts open I ended up accidentally paying off my credit card with my (very depleted) small town bank account rather than my big-city one. I overdrew by $430. Two weeks later I call them up to cancel my account and have them mail me the remainder of my cash by check and the lady lets me know I'm in the red. I'm getting used to big banks so I figure I must have been charged fees out the ass ($400 overdrawn!), but she just laughs and says she figured I probably did something on accident and I'd pay it eventually. So I sent a check for the amount I owed along with a page-long love letter.

God, I miss my bank.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:26 AM on July 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Why is it so hard to start up a bank these days? I don't get it. Why can't all banks be like this? What happened to them all?
posted by saysthis at 8:40 AM on July 28, 2009


There's also a Humble, Texas, which I assume was named after the passage of concealed carry.

Actually, named after a fisherman shortly before the Civil War. Has some name recognition because of Humble Oil, which began in Humble, TX. Humble Oil later merged with Standard Oil of New Jersey. Which is now ExxonMobil.

When you disdain small towns, preferring to drive through at 80 mph on the US freeways (thanks for the safe driving!), you don't learn much.
posted by Houstonian at 9:48 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


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