Vacant Arkansas bank branches part of national auction as more consumers adopt mobile banking

by Wesley Brown ( 286 views 

Two shuttered bank locations in Arkansas are part of a nationwide auction on May 31 to dispose of local branches across the rural South that are struggling to stay afloat as more consumers do their banking online or with smartphone apps.

According to Marietta, Ga.-based auctioneer John Dixon & Associates, 19 bank branches in seven different states will sell at auction to be held in Winston-Salem, N.C. The auction will include five branches in North Carolina, five branches in Virginia, three in Pennsylvania and two in Arkansas – Stuttgart and El Dorado. Other branches are in Tennessee, Mississippi and South Carolina, and 13 of the locations will sell absolute with no reserve, which means the highest bidder wins.

John Dixon, president of the Georgia auction firm, said the upcoming fire sale confirms recent news reports that banks are closing branches at the fastest rate in decades due to customers’ increased use of smartphone apps, websites and ATMs. Talk Business & Arkansas recently reported that the number of Arkansas bank branches had fallen from 1,524 to 1,362 after the 2008 financial crisis, mainly due to mobile banking and other technology innovations in the financial sector.

“This auction, which includes branches offered by two large regional banks, allows them to get these empty buildings off their books, while providing quality locations for other banks, credit unions and other businesses,” Dixon said. “Most of these are quality buildings in locations with good traffic. Even as the big banks close branches, many other businesses are growing and in need of quality space. Of course, most of these buildings can be adapted for a wide range of uses, including office space, retail and even food service.”

According to details on the auction site, the two south Arkansas bank branch sites are owned by BancorpSouth, the Tupelo-based regional banking group with nearly 280 bank branches across Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas. The Mississippi bank currently has 42 branches in 29 cities in Arkansas, according to the company’s most recent securities filing.

The BancorpSouth branch in El Dorado is at 420 S. Bradley Ave. in the Union County city’s downtown area. Although the does bank does not have a low bid price, the 22,500-square-foot property was last appraised in 2017 at a value of $261,700. The vacant 1,400-square-foot BancorpSouth branch in Stuttgart is located at 808 North Buerkle in that Delta’s city downtown area. There were no auction details on when either BancorpSouth location closed.

“Some buyers will probably get some great deals on these, because most are selling with no reserve. Getting these branches sold will open the way for new businesses and help the local economies,” said Dixon.

The nationwide auction will begin at 11 a.m. at the Marriott Winston-Salem. Remote Internet bidding is available by prior arrangement, officials said.