One by one, the major banks have deserted Campbelltown’s main street.
The last one to leave for greener pastures was the St George Bank branch on the western side of Queen Street.
When it closed its doors for the last time on December 3 last year it meant that Bank of Queensland’s John Horosko was last man standing in this once thriving main street.
His premises are located across the road and a few doors further north, almost next door to the building where the Commonwealth Bank once ruled supreme in Campbelltown.
“Which bank’’ was actually the first to move out of Queen Street once it was obvious that Macarthur Square had become the new retail heart for most Campbelltown residents.
Today, Friday, January 14, John Horosko, is celebrating nine years since he became the owner and manager of the Queen Street branch of the Bank of Queensland.
The Commonwealth or CBA as it likes to market itself these days, had already left when he arrived.
But in the next nine years, while Horosko and his team have continued to provide the traditional personal service most people still prefer, the other majors joined in the exodus.
Westpac was next to go, followed by NAB and then ANZ.
St George, which is owned by Westpac, was the last cab off the rank.
As far as John Horosko is concerned, their departure, while disappointing for the other retailers along Queen Street, means an opportunity for him and BoQ.
“The major banks definitely brought people in to do their banking,’’ he says.
“People still want the face to face service, but the big banks have concierges that basically try to push you out the door, saying, why are you coming in here, go and use the ATM outside.
“Here at BoQ we want people to come in the door.
“We’re like a relationship centre, it’s like going to see a financial planner to give you advice and that is the difference in the culture between us and the major banks,’’ he says.
He may be the last banking man standing, but John Horosko has no plans to join the exodus from Queen Street.
In fact, there are plans to expand into other parts of the burgeoning Macarthur region as well as increase services in the Queen Street premises.
“I’m staying here for at least the next seven years,’’ he says.
“I was approached in the past, to go down to Campbelltown Mall, and that’s when the lease on this property came up two years ago.
“I thought to myself, people in Queen Street have supported me, I should support them. So I stayed.
“We would like to expand as well, around Oran Park, Gregory Hills and I’m also looking to put on a new lender early this year, so that will basically expand the business as well,’’ he says.
It is surprising to hear that there wasn’t much camaraderie between bank folk before the majors bolted.
“We don’t really know each other – the others are employees of the major banks, whereas at Bank of Queensland I am a small business owner,’’ he explains.
“Their departure has just given me more opportunity, because the only positive about the big banks being on Queen Street was actually walking down with our new clients with a discharge of mortgage papers and handing it to the banks.
“As you know I worked for Westpac for over 25 years, and because all their customers still know me ,walking in I think they may have had a bit of a chuckle,” he says.
’’Nine years on Queen Street makes John Horosko eminently qualified to comment on what needs to be done to bring back the glory days to Campbelltown’s main street.
“How do you bring people back to the street? Up to the council and landlords to solve that, but I think it would help if we got some more of the right developments,’’ he says.
“Let’s put in more cafes, retail, groceries, and get rid of short term tenancies and $2 shops.
“It will be nice when the new Campbelltown RSL is built, with an entrance in Queen Street, which would be absolutely fantastic, it would change perceptions of this main street.
“Especially being next door to me, it will bring more clients through here,’’ he says with a smile.