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Wells Fargo Bank in Pequot Lakes will close March 8

Former Farmers State Bank was location of an armed robbery in 1929

Wells Fargo.jpeg
The Pequot Lakes Wells Fargo branch is set to close on March 8, 2023.
Megan Buffington / Echo Journal
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PEQUOT LAKES — The Pequot Lakes branch of Wells Fargo Bank will close in March.

Customers are increasingly using digital channels and transacting less often in branches.
Mike Slusark

Customers may have recently found a notice in their mail regarding the March 8, 2023, closing of the branch, meaning customers who do their banking there will have to make future transactions at the next closest branch in Brainerd.

"This is not an easy decision or one we take lightly," Mike Slusark, lead communications consultant on the Wells Fargo public affairs team, said in an email. "This change will not affect customers’ accounts. Customers will be served by our Brainerd branch at 424 West Washington Street, approximately 18 miles away. That branch has the same services offered at Pequot Lakes."

The closure includes the branch office, ATM and safe deposit boxes. The future of the building at the corner of Main and Front streets is uncertain.

"We own it, so we’re considering future options," Slusark wrote.

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Employees at the Pequot Lakes branch will need to find other jobs, possibly by reapplying at other Wells Fargo branches.

"Because this location is being closed, employees won’t have a position but can apply for other positions within the company for which they are qualified," Slusark wrote. "We understand the impact closing a branch can have and are very thoughtful and deliberate in our approach."

Slusark said Wells Fargo came to the decision based on changing customer needs, market factors and economic trends. One factor was the increased dependence upon electronic banking, especially during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Customers are increasingly using digital channels and transacting less often in branches," Slusark said.

The Pequot Lakes building, before Wells Fargo moved in, has a storied history, including an August 1929 robbery where two or three assailants fleeced the bank at gunpoint of $7,997.53, $900 in bonds and three diamonds.

The bank was then a Farmers State Bank branch. The robbery sent area residents into high alert, resulting in armed posses who joined the hunt attempting to track down the two men.

The trail was lost at the Oshawa Store on State Highway 87 west of Backus.

"The money was thrust into a grain sack and then the bandit ran into the vault, where he took additional cash, especially a large number of one dollar bills," reads the Aug. 30, 1929, Pequot Review newspaper.

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The one collecting the money, named Jack, according to witnesses, ushered the customers and employees into the unlocked vault. Robbers escaped in a blue Hupmobile.

Historical documents and artifacts from the Pequot Lakes branch will be sent to either history centers or Wells Fargo Museum.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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