Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:28 pm
Banks continue to operate in vacant Kohl’s stores
By Elizabeth Geldermann, SBT Reporter
Kohl’s Food Stores Inc. packed up and left the Milwaukee-area market in August, but the branch offices of Guaranty Bank and Wauwatosa Savings Bank remain open inside the empty stores.
The banks’ leases with Kohl’s corporate parent, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) of Montvale, N.J., did not terminate when Kohl’s left the Milwaukee area, according to Doug Levy, president of Guaranty Bank.
Levy said the seven branches of Guaranty Bank inside the vacant Kohl’s stores are allowed to stay in the locations as long as they like.
Robert Perry, executive vice-president of Wauwatosa Savings Bank, said there was no reason for his company’s branch in Pewaukee, the only branch inside a food store, to break its lease agreement. Perry said Wauwatosa Savings had an excellent relationship with Kohl’s.
"We did not have much to do (when Kohl’s left), except worry about sales and changes due to that," Perry said.
Roundy’s Inc., Milwaukee, has purchased the former Pewaukee Kohl’s store at 1405 Capitol Drive.
"We wanted to make sure we got the best of the group that is coming in, and I think we got the best possible option with Roundy’s coming in," Perry said.
Roundy’s spokesman Edward Kitz said the former Kohl’s stores the company acquired from A&P were asset purchases, which include the subleases of the bank branches. According to Kitz, the stores will be transformed into Pick ‘n Save food stores and open by the end of the first quarter of 2004.
Guaranty Bank operates seven branches in former Kohl’s stores, according to Gerald Levy, chairman of Guaranty Bank. Five of those stores will become Pick ‘n Save stores, Levy said. The Menomonee Falls and Caledonia locations, N78 W14501 Appleton Ave., and 5111 Douglas Ave., reopened as Pick ‘n Save stores Dec. 2, according to Kitz.
As for business, Doug Levy said Guaranty Banks are still running well, despite the desolate locations.
"We notified our customers in writing and put banners up in the facilities to explain that we were remaining open. We will continue to offer our services today and when a new retailer comes," he said.
Gerald Levy said Guaranty Bank’s growth strategy has mainly been to operate branches in supermarkets.
Although Guaranty Bank officials were worried when Kohl’s announced its store closings in June, Doug Levy said Guaranty Bank has relationships with other grocery store chains.
"Part of the fascination of grocery store banking is that you never think the store is going to pack up and leave town. But I understand the decision. … The only question was, ‘How does it affect us?’" Perry said. "We had a couple of weeks where we were concerned for customers and how we would carry on in a business environment that has dramatically changed."
Perry said the Pewaukee branch of Wauwatosa Savings cut back on hours and staffing and is satisfied with the results, although traffic has decreased significantly.
According to Perry, customers have continued to use the branch for service, and although many customers have gone to more convenient locations, no one has closed an account with Wauwatosa Savings due to the absence of Kohl’s.
However, both Wauwatosa Savings and Guaranty Bank are looking forward to regaining the business and security of grocery store locations.
"The nice thing about being in a grocery store is the amount of people it generates and we generate. It becomes an absolute symbiotic relationship between the two," Perry said.
1. Guaranty Bank, Juneau Village Branch, 1123 N. Van Buren Ave., Milwaukee
2. Guaranty Bank, Wauwatosa Branch, 8151 W. Blue Mound Rd., Wauwatosa
3. Guaranty Bank, Grantosa Branch, 8340 W. Appleton Ave., Milwaukee
4. Guaranty Bank, Ruby Isle Branch, 2205 N. Calhoun Rd., Brookfield
5. Guaranty Bank, Menomonee Falls Branch, N78 W14501 Appleton Ave., Menomonee Falls
6. Guaranty Bank, Waukesha Branch, S30 W24836 Sunset Dr., Waukesha
7. Guaranty Bank, Caledonia Branch, 5111 Douglas Ave., Racine
8. Wauwatosa Savings Bank, Pewaukee Office, 1405 Capitol Dr., Pewaukee