Tightwad bank will be no more
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There really is a Tightwad Bank, but only for a few more weeks. The 22-year-old institution in Tightwad, Mo., which played off its name nearly from the outset and gained national attention in the process, will close Jan. 31. W...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There really is a Tightwad Bank, but only for a few more weeks.
The 22-year-old institution in Tightwad, Mo., which played off its name nearly from the outset and gained national attention in the process, will close Jan. 31.
With it dies a novelty that had attracted mail-in customers from California, Massachusetts and points beyond to the small community.
What better way to settle an old debt than to draw a check on the Tightwad Bank?
The lure inspired J.P. Dawson to take a 10-day road trip across America with his buddy in 2003.
"I wanted to visit Tightwad, because I wanted a photo of the Tightwad city limits and to open a checking account,'' said Dawson, now a 32-year-old Air Force technical sergeant in Anchorage, Alaska. He said his friend insisted on visiting the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota.
Armed with a recent utility bill, two forms of ID and a bank statement, Dawson found the Tightwad Bank's lobby closed. The cashier could not open accounts at the drive-through, but she gave Dawson and his friend key chains. Dawson still carries his.
"I'm glad I got a chance to visit it," Dawson said.
The bank's scheduled closing doesn't surprise Gene Henry, a Clinton, Mo., banker who helped open the Tightwad Bank in May 1984. A reporter at the Kansas City Times caught wind of the new bank in the oddly named town. An article appeared on the Fourth of July.
Henry said the Associated Press called him at home that day, and word began to spread. Canadian newspapers picked up the story, as did radio man Paul Harvey and even the Wall Street Journal.
"We were discovered," Henry said. "People would just mail us a check, Tightwad Bank, Tightwad, Missouri, sometimes with no ZIP code, and the post office, to its credit, found us."
Up to a dozen checks would arrive daily, each with a note asking for an account and a batch of Tightwad Bank checks, Henry said. In two years, customers from near and far stuffed the bank with $2.2 million in deposits.
Reports vary on the origins of the town's name, with most involving a storekeeper. But the name had nothing to do with the bank's origins.