Despite no specific ties to the Jewish community, the higher ups at a Queens subsidiary of the popular banking chain, Toronto Dominion Bank, have decided not to operate on Shabbat.
The decision came out of respect for the local residents of Kew Gardens Hills, which is largely populated by observant Jews who don’t do business on Saturdays. Consequently, upon carefully evaluating the needs of their customers, the bank’s managers decided that opening the store on Saturdays wasn’t something that the local customers needed.
“Our goal is to support the community, and strive to be the heimish bank within a community that has so graciously supported us,” said Larry Oskowsky, Retail Market Manager at TD Bank.
In fact, to fully support the Kew Gardens Hills community, the branch expanded their Sunday store hours to 10am to 4pm in the lobby and 9am to 6pm in the drive-thru. They realized that Sunday was like a regular work day in this neighborhood and now treat it as such.
“The senior management in Queens took a look at what we would want in a neighborhood bank of our own,” Oskowsky told the Jewish Voice. “Hours that fit our schedule and lifestyle were the number one priority. Closing on Saturdays and expanding our Sunday hours has proven to be a great decision for both TD Bank and the local community.”
So who came up with the gesture? “It wasn’t just one person. The leadership in the market, including Larry Oskowsky (Retail Market Manager) and myself, we came to the decision after realizing the banking needs and habits of the local community,” explains Bernie Dolington, the Kew Gardens Branch Manager. “TD Bank had been looking to come to the Kew Gardens Hills area for some time, so the senior management had the opportunity to study the neighborhood and appropriately allocate the bank’s resources based on the needs of the Kew Gardens Hills community.”
To further support the local community, the Kew Gardens Hills store is staffed with several employees who are fluent in Hebrew and Russian, truly allowing the branch to serve and meet the needs of all residents in the surrounding area.
The decision shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering TD has been dubbed “America’s Most Convenient Bank,” with a long-held reputation of catering to its local community. And their efforts have paid off. So far, the local community has welcomed the branch warmly, and the bank is quite proud of their positive reviews.
“It feels good to know they are taking us into consideration,” says Shalom Cohen, a local Kew Gardens Hills resident and customer of the TD branch. “Usually banks are notoriously only out for business, so closing on Saturdays was a big thing for us as locals; it showed they truly do care about the community.”
Adding to Cohen’s sentiment is Bernie.
“The thing that TD Bank is best known for, and the thing that people count on us for the most, is our legendary customer service,” he says. “By focusing on our customers we’ve set ourselves apart from other banks. Customers have told us that ‘convenience’ means that their bank is open when they need it to be, so as part of becoming America’s Most Convenient Bank, closing on the Sabbath to convenience the Kew Gardens Hills community is part of TD Bank’s goal.”
Because of the bank’s growth in New York, it has two branches in very close proximity to the Kew Gardens Hills branch; one in Hillcrest/Fresh Meadows and another in South Flushing, so anyone who would like to bank on Saturdays would still have that option. Additionally, customers can access its online and mobile banking services anytime, and they’re also able to receive live customer service 365 days a year, seven days a week, through the bank’s 24 hour call center.
TD is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S. It provides nearly 8 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at over 1,300 locations across the US.