Dear Bank of Ann Arbor, I know you really want to, but you shouldn’t share everything with the #localbusiness tag


Someone should tell the folks at Bank of Ann Arbor that this probably isn’t a story that they want to be sharing, seeing as how Bee only started working with ZipCap after having been turned down for a loan by them.

Bee, as some of you may have heard us discuss a few weeks ago on the Saturday Six Pack, approached the Bank of Ann Arbor in 2013, at the height of their pervasive ‘we really care about local business‘ ad campaign and asked them for a loan of just $6,000. As she’d run her business successfully for several years by that point, and had a loyal customer base, she was hopeful that they’d be able to establish a small line of credit. They, however, turned her down, forcing her to go to a predatory lender, where she ended up paying an annual interest rate of almost 80%. And, with that, debt began accumulating rapidly, almost driving Beezy’s of business. Fortunately, though, Bee met Evan at ZipCap and, together, they were able to secure a more favorable line of credit by demonstrating the value of Beezy’s loyal customers, and their intention to patronize the restaurant over the coming year.

So the lesson here, Bank of Ann Arbor, is not just to retweet something because it’s accompanied by tags like: #localbusiness, #indie, and #localinvestment. I know those are all things that you want to be associated with, but you really need to ask yourself, before retweeting…. “Did the local business in question come to me for help, only to be turned away?”

[note to Bank of Ann Arbor: Do not retweet this.]

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  1. Posted April 10, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    For more information on the Think Local First event referenced in the tweet at the top of the post, click here.

  2. kjc
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    That’s pathetic.

  3. Emma
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Credit unions will give small personal loans, regular banks will not. Bank of Ann Arbor is no different than any of the bigger banks, they just use their lame ads to try to make people think they are.

  4. Eel
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Non-local bankers think Harbaugh is a bowel disease.

  5. Posted April 11, 2015 at 6:39 am | Permalink


  6. Mr. Y
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    So the Bank of Ann Arbor is encouraging people to go out and here a story about how a San Diego start-up saw more value in a popular local business than they did?

    The irony is, the bad press from this is going to cost them more than $6,000.

  7. stupid hick
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand your outrage, Mark. Getting turned down for a loan by a bank should not be taken as a personal insult. Local bank or not it’s only business.

  8. Brainless
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    This might have been covered elsewhere: What did Beezy’s need the loan for?

    I’m not trying to stir up anything. I’m honestly curious. I don’t have much experience with running a small business, so I’m not sure how these small loans are actually used. It seems especially germane here as the loan might have caused the business some long-term distress.

  9. Frosted Flakes
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    This story is weird. Mark’s friend’s “successful” business almost goes under over a 6000 dollar loan at 80 percent interest and you attack a bank who didn’t want to give her a better interest loan? If a business can’t come up with the 8-10 thousand dollars (the total amount to be repaid including interest), within a year, then can it really be called a successful business? Perhaps, Bank of Ann Arbor really does not care about local businesses, I don’t know, but I would not have loaned the money to her business either after hearing your story.

  10. Bee
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    like any small business, like any big business, I need access to capital both to grow and to sometimes just maintain.

    I went to them twice seeking overdraft protection or a small line of credit to be able to make modest improvements. But I have poor personal credit and no collateral. It’s the classic trope of it takes money to make money and/or bankers are great at leading to those who already have it.

    I’m less mad at not being loaned money for my thriving business (that does not make money hand over fist- most restaurants are doing GREAT at a 2-5% profit… Sooooo, at 500k a year, let’s assume a 3% profit, that’s 15,000… For the year after everything’s “paid”) and since I can’t have my profit at the beginning, I try to eke out those “windfall” months to make hay while the sun shines (so to speak)… There’s never enough to stash away for a rainy day. Looking to a local bank that constantly markets itself as making a difference to local businesses is what I find outrageous- so I shared this tweet with Mark because I find it hilarious they would be so totally tone deaf in promoting an event for an alternative lender….

    It’s not fair to say boaa would have driven me out of business, but they certainly haven’t done shit to help me stay afloat. It’s cool though. Success isn’t always measured in dollars. Too bad I can’t pay my bills with goodwill and social capital, tho.

  11. Posted April 11, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I don’t think it would have rubbed be the wrong way if not for their marketing. I understand that banks turn people down for loans. I get that. But there’s a pretty significant disconnect between their marketed persona and the reality of it. The Bank of Ann Arbor tries to pitch themselves as being all about finding ways to help local business, and that’s often not the case. And I think it’s important to remind them on occasion that supporting local business means more than just putting up billboards and retweeting things like this. If they spent a fraction of their marketing budget on finding creative ways to get working capital into the hands of entrepreneurs, I think that would be great. That won’t happen, though, unless people bring up incidents like this one.

  12. Tony
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Here’s the moral of the BOAA retweet: Whoever is handling their social media accounts shouldn’t be.

    This happened to me too when I started up my own consulting business. I don’t recall if it was BOAA, but we tried to get a line of credit with the “local” banks first to no avail. Ironically, the big banks were able to extend us a line of credit.

    While I want to support local and regional businesses, since then, every time I’ve needed banking services, I’ve gone to the big banks. I don’t see any value in going to a small, local bank. They have limited branches, limited services, and to boot, are less willing to work with me.

    I really hope one day I’m in a situation where someone changes my mind.

  13. Posted April 11, 2015 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Im pretty sure their social media manager is Matthew Altruda, also known as Tuna. I can see him doing this, absentmindedly.

  14. Frosted Flakes
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Do we know that BOA was retweeting because they stupidly did not realize what Zipcap is, and who Bee is? maybe they are happy Bee and Zipcap met? I don’t know. Maybe BOA assumed there wasn’t a bunch of bitterness against them–especially since, from a lenders perspective, there are a lot of red flags warning against making a loan to a RESTAURANT, owned by someone with poor credit, and no collateral. We also do not know the “loan context” and the needs the loan was supposed to address….

    I have only heard good things about Bee and Beezy’s but it is not true that social capital can’t pay the bills–zipcap financing depends upon trust between owners and built up loyalty….I would need more information, however, to not wonder whether or not hard earned social capital was not being spent foolishly in the form expressed bitter resentment against BOA, here in Mark’s article and the comments that follow. What am I missing? I really do not understand…

  15. Posted April 11, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really have anything more to add. Like I said, I don’t have an issue with their not giving Bee a loan. I have many friends that have been turned down for loans. It’s the nature of the business, and it’s the reason that people like Ethan are getting involved and coming up with new solutions. What I have an issue with, as I’ve already said, is the way that Bank of Ann Arbor positions themselves as the hometown bank that will bend over backwards for local businesses. That’s simply not the case. It’s all marketing.

  16. Dustin
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Non-local bankers think “Beezy’s” is what Kanye West is calling himself nowadays. Maybe BOAA was talking to those non-local bankers about it and got confused, in which case they assumed that Beezy’s didn’t really need the money. In this context, you can’t really blame them, right?

  17. Posted April 12, 2015 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Interesting comments.

  18. bee roll
    Posted April 12, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    You’re right, frosted flakes, to some degree, yes, social capital is helping pay the bills. It is more than slightly self pitying of me to be irritated, but I don’t think it’s squandering social capital via bitterness here. Making a pointed observation about the obtuseness of their marketing warrants discussion. I let my bootstraps wear out a little bit, I ain’t perfect, I’ll admit readily to that.

    Sometimes I get tired of looking on the bright side. I want shit to change. It feels overwhelming and I feel mostly powerless because of something as transient as money. It’s mostly funny to me, and a lot irritating, but to also address the earlier comment, I did pay back a great deal of high interest loan money in well under a year. Which is why I had the audacity to query again to boaa, hoping that a legitimate organization could get behind me to get my footing back, because the high rate debt did about kill me, and I’m still digging my way out of issues that stemmed from that. But again, that’s beside the point. No, I don’t believe whomever retweeted the event would have any knowledge of my being turned down twice and eventually hooking in with Zipcap via grassroots fundraising efforts. But does that make it worse or better? It just reiterated Mark’s point about thinking through a tweet/social media/advertising a little bit before posting.

  19. Jules
    Posted April 13, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Unless you have rich relatives, a small business, no matter how well capitalized, at some point is going to need a line of credit. Shit comes up, it’s that simple. My ex ran a small business that did 11 mil a year in sales. You bet your ass he had a credit line with a bank and it got him through the rough times and allowed him to expand and run a successful business. Needing a line of available credit at a decent interest rate is in no way a poor reflection on the business owner. It’s just smart and necessary, period.

  20. Frosted Flakes
    Posted April 13, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Using a line of credit is not a bad thing at all. A bank is irresponsible if it gives risky loans. Bee volunteered information and by her own admission it is not surprising BOAA did not extend credit. It is unfortunate for her, but if BOAA went around giving risky loans (local or not) it would eventually be bad for other local businesses….I have never been to Beezy’s but I have heard great things about her and her business–i hope she enjoys even more success. Even breaking even in the restaurant business is fantastic–very few people can do it. Good for her and good for Ypsilanti for having her and Beezy’s around.

    However, based on the limited information given, I reject the idea that there is necessarily anything hilarious. ironic, obtuse, idiotic, or hypocritical about BOAA 1) rejecting a line of credit to Beezy’s; and 2) retweeting an event about alternative financing.

    It seems to me that BOAA helped promote the event by retweeting. The event, which Beezy’s is playing a role in (appetizers), sounds very positive and interesting. Why not be grateful that someone in charge of social media at BOAA probably saw Beezy’s name, maybe knew a bit about zipcap, passed on some information in an attempt to loan a little support?

    If there is a quantifiable trend that shows BOAA is not lending to local businesses in general then I guess that is interesting given their advertising campaign…I have no idea how one would get such information…

  21. anonymous
    Posted April 13, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I agree wholeheartedly. Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for Bank of Ann Arbor.

  22. High Priest of the Markets
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I guess the Most Important Point here, is to not speak ill of Bank of Ann Arbor. It is business, and that is sacrosanct.

  23. kjc
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    i reject frosted flakes’ basic bitch reasoning. For the millionth time. In all past and future (dreaded) iterations. And enough with the backhanded conpliments to Bee. I have quantified this trend and the result came up: “you keep doing that”.

  24. Posted April 14, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Interesting reaction.

  25. Frosted Flakes
    Posted April 15, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Truly funny stuff, KJC.

    I can’t truly compliment someone I have never met but I am being sincere when I say I have only heard good things about Bee and Beezy’s and that I have believed the truth of the reports, in part because the reports have come from a variety of different sources from people of different ages and walks of life and I think that makes the positive reviews even more convincing.

    I apologize to you kjc, if I am repeating myself and that annoys you, but I think it is important to clear up your comment based on a misinterpretation you had about my comments regarding Bee/Beezy’s.

    I am glad I googled “basic bitch”. You learn something new everyday.

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