If Cookie Monster went looking for a local bank in which to stash his cash, which one would he choose?
Why, we imagine, one that bakes its own chocolate chip cookies and hands them out to the customers.
At First Federal Savings Bank of Champaign-Urbana, every day is now cookie day. Making a deposit? They give you a cookie. Cashing a check or opening a new account? Cookie. Borrowing money? You get a dozen cookies in a box at the closing.
Have your kids with you? They get a cookie, too.
Handing out cookies with the cash is a concept First Federal has been trying out since August, and it's proven to be wildly popular, says Ata Durukan, chief cookie baker and vice president of marketing and human resources at the bank.
Durukan has been baking cookies up on the second floor at the main bank at 1311 S. Neil St., C, and there are plenty of helpers trained to bake along with him, he said.
"We had a lot of eager staff who were willing to learn the process," he added.
Durukan said cookies are being baked on site at all three First Federal locations in Champaign-Urbana, so all customers get a whiff of fresh baking when they walk in and perhaps feel as at home as they do in Grandma's kitchen.
"We just wanted to extend that feeling of comfort and home and a good positive feeling that our customers get here at the bank," he said. "It just makes people feel good."
The cookies are being wrapped individually and served warm to each customer at both inside teller and drive-through windows, but the tellers will ask customers first if they want one.
Durukan said the cookies are available each day the bank is open.
"Going forth, hopefully, this will be our signature," he said.
New store caters to sports fans
Sports Mania has opened at Champaign's Market Place Mall, in the J.C. Penney wing.
It carries sports memorabilia and collectibles, licensed team apparel and sports room decor items such as blankets and pillows, according to manager Tom Schuett.
Sports Mania also has a store at Bloomington's Eastland Mall.
In other news from the management at Market Place:
– The Abercrombie store for kids has closed. No leases have been signed yet for the space, and it will likely house a temporary holiday store later this year.
– Lane Bryant women's apparel is remodeling its interior.
– The latest projection for the opening of the new J. Jill women's apparel store in the new Courtyard wing is sometime between Thursday and Saturday.
Now cleaning carpeting
Scott Turner of Pesotum has started Turner's Carpet Cleaning.
He is offering truck-mounted steam cleaning and says he will work in homes and businesses within 60 miles of Champaign-Urbana.
Turner, originally from Monticello, formerly operated a Stanley Steamer franchise in Minnesota and moved back to Illinois to be nearer family, he said.
He can be reached at 351-1900.
Restaurant chain interested in area
Houlihan's, a restaurant chain looking to add 20 new locations, has signed a franchise agreement with RJH MGT Corp. to open four of them in central Illinois.
Details are still being worked out on exactly where those restaurants will go, but the franchisees want to put a Houlihan's in each of four markets – Champaign, Bloomington-Normal, Springfield and Peoria. Lincoln Land Development Co. is scouting locations, according to the Houlihan's chain.
Houlihan's, in business since 1972, has 80 locations, including six in Illinois. Its menu includes pastas, ribs, salads, sandwiches, meat and chicken entrees, appetizers and desserts.
RJH MGT Corp. is owned by Springfield-based father and son Chris and Russ Hruby. The Hruby family also operates five Maverick Family Steakhouse restaurants.
Are you opening a new business or changing something at your existing business? Debra Pressey can be reached by phone at 351-5229, or 800-252-3346; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.