Weather Forecast


Small loan company opens downtown

Security Finance moved into the empty space at 117 S. Main St. about three weeks ago and began keeping shop from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and until 6 p.m. Fridays.

Manager Dorothy Potts said about the new-to-River Falls business: "We're a small loan company."

It extends loans of $150-$900, mostly to people who are considered a credit risk. Potts said the company offers an alternative to traditional collateral-supported loans as well as to borrowing from a typical loan store.

Security Finance can help people whose credit history includes a bankruptcy, foreclosure or other problems.

People repay the loans in monthly installments. For example, a borrower would repay a $150 loan in five $45 monthly payments, with the option of taking longer but paying more interest for the privilege. Potts said the bigger amount a person borrows, the less interest they'll pay.

"If your credit is less than good," Potts said, "we can help you."

She said customers often need money for something specific, especially in a tough economy. Others just get a loan in order to start building credit history.

"We help people build their credit because we report to the credit bureaus," she said.

That can also work in reverse when a borrower isn't paying back the loan. Potts said the company does its own collections with calls, letters and sometimes knocking on doors.

Although Security Finance doesn't base its interest rates on a borrower's credit score -- it's the same rate for everyone -- it does examine and consider a person's credit history. Potts said as long as it shows at least a few positive marks and a person hasn't been totally negligent, they can probably get a loan.

She says it's becoming more and more common to see foreclosures, bankruptcies and other serious credit problems affecting responsible borrowers. Potts said customers drive company values, that Security Finance is there to "help people in a pinch."

She calls the rates reasonable under the circumstances. Once a borrower has submitted a few on-time payments, they can extend the loan, get money back from it or stretch the terms.

Borrowers need not have a checking account to apply for a loan, which Potts says is the case with many other quick-loan sources. She said customers usually have an answer within an hour.

Growth, moving

Potts said about the company: "They're opening a bunch of new stores in Wisconsin."

She worked at the Eau Claire location for years. When she got the job, she'd answered yes to the question: Are you willing to relocate?

When the time came for expansion into River Falls, she saw opportunity and applied for the manager's job. Getting it meant moving herself and her 16-year-old daughter to River Falls and rolling up her sleeves to clean out the retail space formerly occupied by River Falls Pawn and Jewelry.

Potts said she really likes downtown and has met several other Main Street shop owners. It was from them she learned that Security Finance's landlord and former pawn shop owner Peter McCarty was found guilty last week for receiving stolen property.

Security Finance headquarters are in South Carolina, and it has locations in 16 different states. The River Falls location serves the market within a 30-mile radius that includes Afton, Minn., Baldwin, Beldenville, Ellsworth, Hager City, Hammond, Hastings, Minn., Hudson, Lakeland, Minn., New Richmond, Prescott, Roberts and Spring Valley.

Potts mentioned Security Finance's referral program. It has customers take as many business cards as they want, write their names on the back and distribute them to friends.

For every card one of the friends redeems, the referring person gets $20.

Potts will work in the office with an assistant, who will likely be hired within a week's time.

She adds, "We have very friendly service and will do whatever it takes to make our customers happy."

Contact Security Finance at or 425-8090.