Say hello to the Chevy Chase Bank Check Card Man!
This foam, fabric and plastic costume was used in the mid-2000s to advertise Chevy Chase Bank’s check card services. It measures 5’6″ tall and 18″ deep, and features check-card-replica info on the front and back (including ‘valid’ dates 2003-2006, and the name “Mr. I.M. Convenient”) and an exceedingly happy expression. The lucky wearer peered out through the black mesh inside Mr. Convenient’s smile. The full costume included red shoe covers and large white gloves, though those were lost before donation.
Chevy Chase Bank was founded in 1969 by B.F. Saul II, grandson of B.F. Saul I, whose eponymous real estate company (founded in 1892) is still in business. As the bank’s name implies, it was a local company, based in Chevy Chase and Bethesda. Originally called the Chevy Chase Savings & Loan Association and later Chevy Chase Savings Bank, the company was renamed Chevy Chase Bank in 1994, and local residents may remember the distinctive red-brick, columned-front bank branches that popped up around the area in the late 1990s and 2000s.
Mr. Convenient and his friend, a seven-foot-tall walking ATM (which costume, alas, we do not have), were sent out to bank-related events and openings, and participated in various public and charitable activities. For example, I found this awesome photographic evidence of Mr. Convenient playing basketball, at Towson University’s “Annual Mascot Madness” in 2009. There seem to have been a few other copies of Mr. Convenient out there, but it’s clear that, basketball-playing or no, our guy got some action; one of the interior shoulder braces has broken off, and the plastic eyeballs are scratched and chipped. (Other than that, the costume is in pretty good shape.) The large armholes on the sides, and an open bottom, allow for some movement, but I imagine that the humans who portrayed Mr. Convenient had their fair share of mishaps nonetheless.
The bank was acquired by Capital One Bank in 2009, and in 2010 the Chevy Chase name was officially removed from use. In 2012 the B.F. Saul Company donated this costume, and other 1990s-2000s bank-related ephemera, via James M. Goode, the company’s historian and archivist, and his assistant Peter Penczer; the latter kindly modeled Mr. Convenient for us, as seen in the photo below.
Once the bank changed owners and names, the check card mascot was no longer needed – at least not by the bank. As an historical artifact, he can still be a contributing member of society! Of all the past-businesses-related pieces in our collections, this costume probably has the best visual impact. After all, not every artifact smiles back.