A Virginia community bank is literally rolling out the red carpet this week in hopes of winning checking account customers.

The Middleburg Bank, a $247 million-asset subsidiary of Independent Community Bankshares in Middleburg, has laid ruby carpets leading to the entrances of each of its four branches, and today and Saturday doormen clad in tuxedoes will greet branch visitors.

Treating people "like royalty," as a TV commercial puts it, is a not-so-subtle dig at larger banks that Middleburg says have driven away less-profitable checking account customers with higher fees.

"We consider every account to be an important relationship, regardless of balance," said Joe Boling, Middleburg's president and chief executive officer. "The checking account is often the beginning of a multiaccount relationship with many people. It would be a shame to close that door."

Middleburg is offering free checking for six months, no minimum balance required. After six months customers may continue to get free checking if they maintain an average monthly balance of $300.

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