CHICAGO -- Gary Dachis wanted to market his check-cashing outlet as an alternative to traditional financial institutions, so he took 7-Up's approach: He named his business Unbank Co.

"We do things that banks don't do, kind of like the |uncola,'" he said at a recent check-cashers convention. "We picked up the slack where banks weren't providing the services."

Range of Services

He wants his customers to know before they walk in that his business is different. Unlike many banks, he says, he provides a wide range of services and products - like cashing checks without identification and providing stamps and money orders - conveniently and without pretense.

"We do more than banks do and in a more friendly, less intimidating fashion," he said. "Part of the reason people don't go to banks is they are intimidating."

Mr. Dachis has "unbanks" in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Mississippi, and plans to open three more in Mississippi and Louisiana. Many of these stores are in casinos, offering credit card advances to casino customers.

Customers sign "uncheks" to get their money, he said.

In Wisconsin, though, he's had to come up with another name, Game Financial Corp.

Like many states, Wisconsin forbids the word "bank" to be a part of a nondepository institution's name.

Despite the name of his institution, Mr. Dachis insists that he has nothing against banks, and that in Minneapolis, they actually serve the inner city quite well.

"Banks don't intimidate me, and my bankers are very friendly," he said. "But banks are not for everyone."

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