Fraud Alert: Watch for Stolen Mail

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Customers in Red Wing, Hampton and the surrounding areas have reported an increase in stolen mail, including people who use their mailbox for outgoing mail.

We’d like to remind all customers to be cautious when sending or receiving personal information, bank account information or checks through the mail. To protect yourself or your business, consider following these recommendations from the Federal Trade Commission:

  • Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office.
  • Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.
  • When you order new checks, don’t have them mailed to your home, unless you have a secure mailbox with a lock.

To learn more about how you can protect your personal information, read this article from the FTC Consumer Blog.

If you think your bank account information has been compromised or you are a victim of identity theft, contact your local Merchants Bank and ask to speak to a Customer Service Representative.

“10 Days of Giving” at 206,050 Pounds for 2016; Passes 3 Million Pounds Collected in Total

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“10 Days of Giving” Food Drive Co-Chairs Jen Welch and Chad Anderson

Through school and business pickups Monday and Tuesday, the “Days of Giving”Food Drive was at 206,050 pounds of food. The collection puts the drive at over 3 million pounds of food collected during the drive’s 28-year history to benefit the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services.

“The pick-ups are always a lot of work for our volunteers and the volunteers at Winona Volunteer Services, and it always seems as if they are on the coldest days of the year,” said Jen Welch, one of this year’s co-chairs for Merchants Bank. “Our thanks to all of our volunteers and to all of the people who donated goods and money to make the drive a success. We are thankful to top 3 million pounds and grateful that we have been able to help people in our area who have a need.”

The 2016 total breaks down to $90,900 in cash and 24,250 pounds of food. For the purposes of the total, two pounds of food are counted for each dollar. The total for 28 years now stands at 3,045,465 pounds.

“All of us at Merchants Bank are looking forward to renewing the drive next year and helping to meet our goal of helping to make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry during the winter,” Welch said.

Merchants collected nonperishable food items at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. A list of participating schools and businesses is at www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving.

“10 Days of Giving” Food Drive Has a Good Beginning

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Through Tuesday, Merchants Bank’s 28th annual “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive was at 97,036 pounds of food collected.

The number of pounds of food collected included $47,976 in cash and 1,084 pounds of food. Included in the amount was a $10,000 anonymous donation. Two pounds of food are counted for each dollar collected. Through the same time last year, 117,381 pounds of food had been collected.

“We are always truly amazed at the generosity of the people in our community, especially as it relates to helping others,”said Jennifer Welch of Merchants Bank, one of this year’s co-chairs.

Last year, more than 231,233 pounds of food was collected, making the 27-year total 2,839,415 pounds of food. With totals to date for this year, the “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive is at 2,936,451 pounds of food collected.

“We are looking forward to the remainder of the drive,” Welch said. “We expect there will be great turnouts for the Holiday Train on Thursday and at the Santa House on Saturday and Sunday.”

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is scheduled to arrive at 4 p.m. at the Winona Amtrak Station. The Santa House is open at 25038 County Road 9 1-5 p.m. Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday. Suggested admission to the Santa House is $5 per person or nonperishable food items. Pictures with Santa will be available for $3 a photo.

Merchants will be collecting nonperishable food items at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. A list of participating schools and businesses is at www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving. Monetary donations can be made out to “10 Days of Giving” and can be mailed to, or dropped off at Merchants Bank, 102 E. 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987. If you would like to make a donation online, you can go directly to the Winona Volunteer Services website: winonavs.org. Indicate ” 10 Days of Giving”after entering your name.

Richard Barry Named President at Merchants Bank Equipment Finance

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Rick Barry, President of Merchants Bank Equipment Finance

Equipment financing leader Richard Barry has been named President at Merchants Bank Equipment Finance (MBEF), according to Rodney R. Nelson, CEO of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI).

Barry started November 14, allowing him time to work alongside current MBEF President Brad Brolsma through the end of the year and learn first-hand about MBEF’s growing customer base. Brolsma retired December 31, after 14 years with MBEF.

“Rick has tremendous experience and connections in the equipment financing industry. We are excited he has joined our team and will be leading Merchants Bank Equipment Finance,” Nelson said. “We are very pleased that he will have some time to work with Brad to learn about our key customer relationships that we value so greatly.”

Barry brings extensive industry experience, including nearly 20 years working in equipment finance with GE, TCF, and, most recently, U.S. Bank.

“MBEF has an excellent and growing reputation in our industry for providing smart and strategic answers to its customers,” Barry said. “I’m looking forward to working with the team Brad has put together and continue the growth with both new and existing customers through providing the best in service and solutions.”

MBEF provides equipment financing options to businesses located throughout the Upper Midwest and also partners with other finance companies in equipment finance transactions outside of its marketing footprint. Founded in 1988, MBEF works to meet the needs of its customers across many industries, including construction, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing and food and agriculture.

MBEF is located in Edina. In addition to MBEF, MFGI owns Merchants Bank locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders.

Money Ball is Back for its Fourth Year in Apple Valley

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Merchants Bank’s Money Ball is back for its fourth year, with Apple Valley students having the opportunity to participate in the halftime event 11 times during the Apple Valley boys’ varsity basketball season, according to Brian Wester, who coordinates Money Ball for Merchants Bank.

Apple Valley School District students can sign up before each game and then two students are chosen at random to participate. Each student gets one minute to make a lay-up, free throw and then a half-court shot. The student wins a $10 Chipotle gift card for a made lay-up, a $25 Buffalo Wild Wings gift card for a made free throw and $100 or more for a made half-court shot. If the half-court shot isn’t made, the money rolls over and is added to the next home game.

“It’s exciting for the students and a benefit for the basketball booster club,”said Brian Wester, who coordinates Money Ball for Merchants Bank. “Through our first three years we’ve given nearly $5,000 to students and matched that amount for the booster club.”

The full schedule for the year is as follows:

  • Dec 13 — Cretin Durham Hall
  • Dec 15 — Owatonna
  • Jan 6 — Shakopee
  • Jan 10 — Rosemount
  • Jan 13 — Prior Lake
  • Jan 26 — Eastview
  • Feb 7 — Lakeville North
  • Feb 17 — Lakeville South
  • Feb 21 — Farmington
  • Feb 28 — Eagan
  • March 3 — Burnsville

No customer relationship is necessary to enter or win. Merchants Bank employees and family members are not eligible to enter or win.

Attend our Holiday Open Houses

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Join our staff at these great events throughout December. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed.

11/28-12/17 Swipe Out Hunger
Vote for your local food shelf on our Facebook page to help them win a top donation of $5,000.
12/1-12/10 “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive

See how you can support local food shelves through the “10 Days of Giving” at participating Merchants Bank locations.

12/2 Caledonia Holiday Open House
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Caledonia

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.

12/2 Caledonia Winter Wonderland Parade
7:00 p.m.

Please join us on Main Street in Downtown Caledonia.

12/2, 12/9, 12/16, 12/23 Cottage Grove Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.

12/3 Goodview Holiday Lighted Parade
5:30 p.m.
6th Street in Goodview
12/8 Hastings Holiday Open House
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Hastings

Please join us for a light lunch and refreshments in our bank lobby. You may also bring food or monetary donations for the “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive.

12/9 Lanesboro Holiday Open House
Until 3:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Lanesboro

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in the bank lobby.

12/9 Rushford Holiday Open House
Until 3:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rushford

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in the bank lobby.

12/9 Spring Grove Holiday Open House
12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Spring Grove

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. Santa will be available for pictures between 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.

12/10 Rushford Holiday Parade of Lights
7:00 p.m.

Join us for the Parade of Lights in Downtown Rushford.

12/12-12/16 Rosemount Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rosemount

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.

12/12-12/16 Winona Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Winona-Downtown

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. Live music will be performed throughout the day by area schools. Click here for a full schedule of musical performances.

12/15-12/16 La Crescent Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in La Crescent

Please join us for cookies, coffee and holiday spirit in our bank lobby.

12/16 Cannon Falls Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls

Please join us for live music, cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. Click here for a full schedule of musical performances.

12/16 Eau Claire Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Eau Claire

Please join us to take a tour of our new branch expansion. We will be serving cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. 

12/16 St. Charles holiday Open House
10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in St. Charles

Please join us for refreshments in our bank lobby. 

12/19 Red Wing Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Red Wing

Please join us for live music, cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. 

  • 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. – John Anderson, Becky Clark and Shelly Schroeder
  • 3:00-4:00 p.m. – Bells of the Bluffs – BoBLiTe bell choir
12/19-12/23 Onalaska Holiday Open House
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Onalaska

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. 

12/19-12/23 Rochester Green Meadows Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rochester – Green Meadows

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.

12/19-12/23 Rochester Northwest Plaza Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Rochester – Northwest Plaza

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. 

12/23 Hampton Holiday Open House
8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in Hampton

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby. Piano music will be performed 2:00-4:00 p.m. by Elizabeth Schriever.

Merchants Bank Money Ball is Back for 6 Games in 2016-2017

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Merchants Bank’s Money Ball will be coming back for a third year in 2016-2017, according to Kari Johnson of Merchants Bank in Rushford.

“We’re hoping students have a great time this year, just as they did the past two years,” said Johnson, who is coordinating Money Ball. “It’s a fun event for the crowd, for us and for the participants. Plus the R-P booster club benefits.”

Last year, students received a total of $920. Merchants Bank in Rushford matched that donation with another $920 to the Rushford-Peterson Booster Club, for a total payout of $1,840 during Money Ball. In the first year, a total of $640 was given to the participants and booster club, making the total payout $2,480 to date.

Student halftime participants are broken into two groups – 5th grade and younger and 6th grade and older. Participants have to register and are drawn randomly. Three participants, 5th grade and under, have 30 seconds to make shots, earning $5 for a made lay-up, $10 for a free throw, and $25 for a 3-pointer. Another three participants, 6th grade and over, also have 30 seconds, earning $10 for a made free throw, $25 for a 3-pointer and $100 for a half-court shot.

This year, the home games are:

Boys’ Games:

  • Dec.  8             Caledonia
  • Dec. 22            La Crescent
  • Jan.  26           Winona Cotter

Girls’ Games:

  • Jan. 24            St. Charles
  • Feb. 3              Caledonia
  • Feb. 17            La Crescent