(Originally published in the Telegraph on 7/7/08)
BETHALTO - Staff from the recently opened Bethalto branch of Liberty Bank and representatives of the River Bend Growth Association celebrated Monday as a new chapter in the bank's history began.
The bank held an 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony in its new 10,000-square-foot facility at 333 W. Bethalto Drive, which it shares with The Cup, a coffee shop and provider of Kaldi's Coffee, and the Mail Box Store, a shipping center and print and copy store.
Bethalto Mayor Steve Bryant, Liberty Bank President Dale Blachford and the RBGA's director of member services, Joell Aguirre, applauded the bank's novel business strategy.
"This new concept is exciting for us," Bryant said. "This should build revenue for Bethalto."
"The economic development for Bethalto is awesome, bringing new businesses into the area," said Denise Wolff, ambassador from the RBGA and vice president of Partners Bank in Glen Carbon. "One business will complement the others."
Construction on the fourth branch began in October 2007 with general plans to incorporate other stores, but no specific businesses had been finalized, Blachford said. He said he contacted Eliot Deters, owner of the Mail Box Store, and Julia Kennedy, manager of The Cup, about sharing the building earlier this year.
"We want to be different," Blachford said. "This has turned out even better than what I was hoping."
"The concept intrigued me," he said. "There aren't a lot of banks that have done it, but it has worked out for those that have."
Kennedy and Deters echoed Blachford's excitement about the innovative building layout.
"I think it's a concept that will take off," Kennedy said.
"It's really neat that you've got everything here," Deters said.
The bank lobby is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The drive-through window is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
Liberty Bank also has one location in Alton on Homer Adams Parkway and two locations on Godfrey Road.
Along with its selection of coffee drinks, tea, cocoa and smoothies, The Cup offers a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, paninis and pastries.
"There's nothing like it," Kennedy said. "It's like Starbucks meets St. Louis Bread Company."
Opening an account with Liberty Bank earns new customers a $5 gift certificate for The Cup.
The coffee shop features drive-through service and is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
The Mail Box Store, which has another location in Collinsville, is a "full-service mail parcel store," Deters said. The store rents out private mailboxes and enables customers to ship with the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx and DHL. Also available for purchase are postage and office supplies, postcards, key chains, stationery and other gift items.
Deters' store is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Other events for Liberty Bank's Grand Opening Week include a fraud prevention seminar at 2 p.m. today; special rates on certificates of deposit for senior citizens on Wednesday; online banking seminars on Thursday; hot dogs and refreshments from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday; Customer Appreciation Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and a free outdoor movie screening that evening.
Later this week, Liberty Bank also will launch a new Web site just for children, Blachford said.
"It's a site designed for kids on how to save money," he said.
The site - still under construction - will be located at www.banklibertyjr.com.
The Bethalto branch can be contacted at (618) 377-1500.