TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. Open a bank account, get a gun.
North Country Financial Corp. is exchanging firearms for deposits. The company is giving away rifles and shotguns in lieu of the interest that normally accompanies the products.
Put as little as $869 in a 20-year certificate of deposit, and the bank will hand over a Weatherby Inc. Mark V Synthetic rifle that normally sells for $779. Deposit more, and you can choose from six Weatherby shotguns or a limited-edition rifle with walnut stock and oak-leaf engravings.
The bank has 28 branches, mostly in Michigans Upper Peninsula, and it says the guns-for-CDs program is going over well during a period of shrinking bank deposits nationally.
U.S. time deposits, including CDs, at yearend fell 10.2% from 10 years earlier, to about $1.05 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. Assets in mutual funds surged 537%, to $6.82 trillion at the end of November, according to the Investment Company Institute.
Banks across the country are offering everything from $50 gift certificates to books to casserole dishes and clocks in attempts to draw customers and stem a seven-year decline in deposits that reflects peoples shift to stocks and mutual funds.
North Countrys arrangement with Weatherby, of Atascadero, Calif., which began more than 10 years ago, is the brainchild of Ronald G. Ford, the banking companys chairman and chief executive. Its a high-end product that fits the lifestyle here, he said.
The guns, which are displayed on the bank branches walls, dont raise many eyebrows in the Upper Peninsula, where some schools close for the start of hunting season in November.
Rose Garvin, a North Country Bank and Trust manager who has a federal firearms license, said the program has brought in millions of dollars of deposits from customers in every state, since the bank advertises its CDs in magazines for hunting and gun buffs.
This novel premium has angered some, though not enough to put a stop to the program.
Im not thrilled that theyre giving out rifles, but I wouldnt join picket lines against it, said Marj Jackson Levin, president of Michigan Citizens for Handgun Control in Birmingham, a Detroit suburb. I cant say that they shouldnt be giving guns away.