By Valerie Baldowski
Rather than depending on the "Luck of the Irish" to draw in business, merchants on the McDonough Square are hoping St. Patrick's Day will be the magnet they need.
Today, until Friday, leprechauns will be hidden in 28 retail businesses, and restaurants, on The Square, waiting for customers to find them, said Linda Schenk, director of Main Street McDonough, an agency that promotes businesses in the downtown area.
The hunt for leprechauns is a brainchild of Schenk, and is designed, she said, "to put feet in the street, and keep tax dollars in the community."
The leprechauns will resemble the tiny, old, male characters with pots of gold in fairytales, but they will be a wee bit different. These leprechauns are laminated cardboard, and their pots of gold are, too. Nevertheless, there will be prizes for those who find them.
Winners must present a receipt of a purchases made from a store in, or around, The Square, during the week of March 15-19, according Schenk. They must also be able to tell at what business they found their leprechaun, and where it was hidden, said Schenk. Prizes will be awarded March 22-26, at the McDonough Welcome Center, which is located at 5 Griffin St.
The hunt for leprechauns promotion is a good way to generate business, said Shelley DeLisle, owner of Bliss, a bakery-specialty store, at 20 Macon St.
"I think it's a good thing for The Square, in general," she said. "It kind of reminds people that we're here, and it's a fun thing to come in and visit the shops. We actually have a lot of really good shops, and it's a good place to come spend an afternoon."
A strong customer base is critical to the shops in the downtown area, DeLisle continued. "Foot traffic is going to be very important."
DeLisle said the customers who find one of the five, smaller leprechauns at her store will get one of her popular cupcakes and coffee. The patron who finds the large leprechaun will get, either a gift basket, or $25 gift certificate.
Prizes will vary among merchants. For example, Shannon Cannon, co-owner of Bell, Book & Candle, located at 45 John Frank Ward Blvd., said prizes at her novelty business will be a little different.
Customers finding a small leprechaun will receive an instant discount off purchases, a coupon for 50 percent off, or free books, said Cannon. Those locating a large leprechaun, with a pot of gold, can win a gift basket, or a $25 gift certificate to spend at businesses on The Square, according to Cannon.