Extreme Makeover, Credit Union Style

Summit CU’s ‘inspiration’ branch helps members achieve their dreams.

Vaulting up three stories, the Tudor-tinged street scene from York, England—featuring a walk-in pub complete with cricket photos, gear, and trophies among its three, brightly-hued storefronts—captures your attention immediately.

Your eyes dart to the right, where a bedroom bathed in purple belonging to a young girl named Hannah sits atop a breakfast nook. To the left, the Tower of Pisa shoots skyward at its surreal, four-degree lean.

Further over, there’s another prominently pillared replica, this one a take-off on Bascom Hall, the most recognizable building on the University of Wisconsin campus.

In the foreground, tucked away behind a pair of lazy chairs with a beachside view, is a section of fuselage from a commercial airplane, yielding to a “cabin” that features actual first-class seats and an Xbox equipped with headphones and a flight simulator game.

No, this isn’t your typical credit union lobby.

“‘Are we in Disney World?’ That’s the biggest reaction we get,” says Sherry Johnson, who manages the new Inspiration Branch for Summit Credit Union, Madison, Wis. (125,000 members, $1.8 billion in assets). “Or, ‘Is this still a [credit union]? Can I still do my transactions here?’ ”

The answer to the latter question is yes—but not in the traditional sense. There is no teller’s row at the branch, located in the suburb of Fitchburg.

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