Kyle Jensen / The Record — SaviBank opened a full service branch in Freeland on Monday. The addition of SaviBank brings the number of banks in downtown Freeland to six.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — SaviBank opened a full service branch in Freeland on Monday. The addition of SaviBank brings the number of banks in downtown Freeland to six.

SaviBank opens branch in Freeland

South Harbor Avenue in Freeland might as well be South Whidbey’s Wall Street.

The downtown street has been a hub for business for years, and with the opening of a full service SaviBank branch on Monday, four banks now call a single block on South Harbor Avenue home. Considering Coastal Community Bank and Chase Bank are both within close proximity, that brings the number of banks in the downtown Freeland core to six.

According to Freeland Branch Manager Lauren Pool, there’s still room for SaviBank.

“We felt there was a need in the area for a community bank,” Pool said. “South Whidbey is used to having a local bank, one that knows customers by name rather than as numbers.”

The Burlington-based bank recently upgraded its loan center to a full service branch, now offering checking, savings, commercial and personal loan services. The company aims to utilize the niche market of community banking in order to beat out the competing regional and national banks within a half-mile radius: Whidbey Island Bank / Heritage Bank, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and the two aforementioned banks.

SaviBank CEO Michal Cann says the high concentration of financial services in downtown Freeland was considered in the company’s decision to open a full service branch. Despite the cluster of competitors, he believes his company stands out.

“We’re able to provide more community banking and more detailed involvement in the community than our competitors can,” Cann said. “We can do the small community banking better than anyone else in Freeland. We can provide a niche they may not be able to over time.”

Island County Economic Development Council Executive Director Ron Nelson said that as long as the market demands more banks, the six will survive. Considering national and regional banks often offer different services, he said it appears there was room for a local bank such as SaviBank.

Cann and a number of the people working with SaviBank were once with Whidbey Island Bank before it merged with Heritage Bank in 2014, which means they’re familiar with the clientele base. The merger meant Whidbey Island Bank’s main office was moved to Olympia, and only operates under the Whidbey-centric name on the island. Cann says of all the financial service providers in Freeland, SaviBank is the most localized, which allows it to be more competitive.

There are branches in Skagit, Whatcom and Island counties.

Neither Cann nor Pool see opening a full service location in downtown Freeland as a risk. Cann says the community banking market has served SaviBank well, pointing to 33 percent growth in the past year. It’s also the overall economic health of South Whidbey that spurred the company to open a full service branch. Cann says he sees a good economy that’ll continue to grow, as well as a good deposit market.

“We feel there is a lot of business to go around in Freeland,” Pool said. “We call it the financial hub of the South End. Everyone is drawn to Freeland by the businesses: hardware stores, grocery stores and other places that impact people’s businesses.”

More in Business

See caption
Seafood delivery biz is catching on

F or millennial business owners Emily Wilder and Sam Mitchell, the world is their oyster.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Will Hawkins and Dawn Smith officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.
Rainshadow Nursery welcomes new owners

Dawn Smith and Will Hawkins of Greenbank officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.

Meagan Welsh and JT Hilton attend to the plants at Mutiny Bay Bamboo Co. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Freeland bamboo business booms

A new landscaping company is specializing in a fast-growing plant that is beautiful and sustainable.

See caption
New teriyaki truck rolls into Freeland

The new business, IC Teriyaki, is owned and operated by Eli Imbery and Carol Coble.

See caption
South Whidbey farm hosts fitness classes

If you’ve ever wanted to do bicep curls with a chicken or goat walking by, now might be your chance.

Andrew Curtis drops off groceries at a home in Clinton on a delivery run for Whidbey Deliveries. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
South Whidbey grads run grocery delivery business

Graham Colar and Andrew Curtis deliver groceries and run errands on South Whidbey.

Whidbey Island tourism spikes in 2021

Daily visitors to Island County boomed this year despite COVID, with economic impact far-reaching.

Taylor Moore shows off one of her signature smoothie bowls. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Entreprenuer brings smoothie bowls to South Whidbey

Taylor Moore wants her own business to be a place where people can “rehabilitate themselves.”

Wiley
Salon that won PSE makeover to appear on Evening Magazine

A popular Coupeville spa and salon will be spotlighted in a reality makeover show this week.

Shannon Hamilton, front, and Wendi Hilborn own Whidbey Farm and Market on Monroe Landing Road outside of Oak Harbor. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
New market opens across from drive-in

Whidbey Farm and Market has close to 100 local products.

Sound Publishing makes $500K in grants available to struggling businesses

Sound Publishing has launched a local stimulus program to help businesses adapt… Continue reading

t
Despite 2020, Oak Harbor deli opens doors for business

An island-wide power outage and a pandemic couldn’t keep Zanini’s Deli from opening in Oak Harbor.