Skokie banker still tooling around town
Skokie native David Putrus continued working at an Ace Hardware on Oakton Street even after beginning his career in banking. | Courtesy David Putrus
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:06AM
SKOKIE — Some people reach adulthood and high-tail it out of the small town they were raised in without ever looking back.
Then there are people like Skokie native David Putrus, who at 34 years old has never strayed far from the hometown he loves.
Putrus graduated from Niles West High School in 1997, and when many of his friends left for college, he chose to stay close to home, commuting to Triton College in River Grove from his family’s Skokie home for auto technology classes.
He worked for a few hours each weekend as a greeter at the same Ace Hardware store on Oakton Street he had held a part-time job at since he was 14-years old.
But it wasn’t for the extra money he earned. Putrus returned to his teenage job weekend after weekend until he was 27 years old because he enjoyed the regulars who would come in to shoot the breeze with him.
“It was a place where people came in and hung out,” Putrus said. “I knew a lot about hardware and I loved meeting people who came into the store, so I just worked there for fun.”
Even after he began his banking career in 1999 at Edens Bank in Skokie, Putrus continued working at the Ace store for a few hours each week.
He finally quit in 2006, but Putrus said his 13 years of experience working in one of Skokie’s oldest businesses (it’s been in the community for more than 100 years) developed into a deep appreciation for the vital role small businesses play in the community.
“Businesses like the Ace Hardware store set a great example for others in the community,” Putrus said. “It really says something to be around for 100 years in the same place.”
Outside of business hours at the bank, Putrus stays busy working as an advocate in different capacities for local small businesses.
He volunteers his time to a multitude of nonprofit organizations, many of which serve small local businesses, such as the Dempster Street Merchants Association, which Putrus created last year to help connect local shops on Dempster Street.
“The vision is to give businesses an opportunity to know their neighbors so they can reach out and help each other out,” Putrus said.
Putrus’ dedication to supporting small businesses and advocating for the good of his native community also stretches to the Skokie Chamber of Commerce, where he’s served as a board member for five years, and to the Public Safety Commission, where he serves as a commissioner.
But his service work doesn’t end in the business sector. Putrus also serves as vice president of The Skokie Lions Club and is on the board of The Douglas Center, a non-profit charity in Skokie that provides day programs for developmentally and intellectually disabled adults.
“I’ve met a lot of people being in the community for 34 years, and I just feel the need to do good things and help others out whenever I can,” Putrus said.
Other than being able to fix a car like a pro, Putrus never used his auto technology degree, and he never applied his extensive hardware knowledge to a long-time career.
But, his part-time gig at Ace Hardware ended up bringing him more than just a little extra pocket cash.
While working at the store in 1998, Putrus met a co-worker named Judy, and after dating for a few years, the couple recently married.
“We had a lot in common—she had a customer base just like I did and she worked on weekends to see all her regular customers come into the store,” Putrus said. “She’s a Skokie veteran like me but we had never crossed paths, so I’m really thankful for taking that job.”