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The 1950s live-at least at the newest branch of Chetco Federal Credit Union.

Almost every feature of the recently opened branch is from half a century ago, including a kitchen with working appliances, a television set that plays classic programs, living room furniture, and a children's play area with "Davy Crockett" toys. The teller stations evoke an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, topped by a floral "ice cream sundae."

The theme d?cor comes from the memory and imagination of Stan Baron, president and CEO of Chetco FCU, which is headquartered in Harbor, Ore., about 25 miles north of Crescent City. He told The Credit Union Journal the objective was to get away from a stuffy, sterile, institutional environment.

"This is an idea I've had in my mind about 20 years, but never had the occasion to bring it to fruition until I got to this credit union," said Baron, who previously worked for FAA Federal Credit Union, which was housed in government buildings that didn't lend themselves to theme architecture. "I'm an old '50s rock-and-roller. I owned a 1957 Chevy, and this credit union was founded in 1957, so I figured it was perfect."

After members walk by a "Welcome Home" sign on the branch's front door for the first time, Baron said they stop dead in their tracks, jaws slack and eyes popping open as they are confronted with the sight of a kitchen, living room and fireplace.

"They ask if the appliances are real, and they are. We found some incredible retro stuff thanks to the Internet. Actually, we were overwhelmed by the things we found, from the appliances to a chandelier to Formica tables with chrome legs. We even found wall sconces that are replicas of those found in the Copacabana in the 1950s. Even if people haven't been to the Copa, they recognize them from other night clubs from that era."

The branch took two years to complete. Baron described the process as a "labor of love." He said it turned out even better than he thought it would.

The $232-million, 22,550-member CU is considering carrying the theme concept to its other eight branches, he continued. Each branch will be allowed to decide its theme. There also is a possibility of a new headquarters branch with a "big" theme borrowed from a New York City landmark.

"We are talking about building a new home office in Brookings, Ore. We are thinking of a mini replica of the Chrysler Building. It won't be 1,000 feet tall, but it will be about seven or eight stories and will have the name needle design." "We want to revolutionize banking, or should I say, credit unioning," quipped Baron.

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