Egged on by her fellow members of Gloucester's Downtown Association, Christine Orlando has hatched an Easter seasonal promotional plan for Main Street's retailers — once again pulling the diverse shops together to draw residents and visitors alike to the city's core.
Orlando, owner of Main Street's Kids Unlimited and the brain behind the popular and now-annual Christmas "Winner takes-all $1,100 shopping spree," has simply taken her own successful model, and given it a fresh, new colorful spring spin.
"If at first you succeed, why not try, try it again?" Orlando said in a Tuesday phone interview. The Easter promotion, which kicks off today, mirrors the two-year-old Christmas shopping spree lottery.
"It works exactly the same," she says, "for every item bought from a participating retailer, you get a chance to win the big prize."
From the retailers' point of view, the big prize is, of course, a huge boost in sales.
"It's all about giving locals the incentive to shop locally," says Orlando, "and it works — people love it. Sales were great over the past two Christmases, so why not extend the concept into spring?"
Orlando did come up with one good reason.
"It's a lot of work," she says. And so to help, she recruited another Orlando.
John Orlando, owner of the Harborview Inn and no relation to Christine, has long been a leading light on the Downtown Association and, as official pavement pounder on the new Easter promo, signed seven new retailer participants onboard.
"John did a fantastic job," says Christine Orlando, "we're up from 43 participating merchants at Christmas, to 50 going into spring, and right now, he's out there hanging flyers all over town."
The flyer, which advertises the grand finale Easter eve event, on Saturday, April 7, from 2 to 4 p.m., is what, says Orlando, "will ultimately keep all those shoppers shopping."
The big, winner—takes—all Easter basket, filled with $750 worth of goodies: $490 in local dining gift certificates, an overnight "holiday stay" in a deluxe guest room at the Boulevard's Harborview Inn worth $150, and two grandstand tickets at Fenway Park for a Red Sox-Tampa Bay in May, worth $100.
Far from putting all its eggs in one basket, adds Orlando, the promotion has no fewer than 1,000 eggs waiting in the wings for "who knows how many baskets" belonging to kids participating in the "Big Easter Egg Run" which will literally have the run of Main Street, from Hancock Street to Center Street at the Easter eve event
"It's not a hunt," emphasizes Orlando, "the eggs are in full view, scattered on the block-long course, divided down the middle for two different age groups to run simultaneously. One side for kids 2 to 4 years old, and the other for kids 5 to 8 years old.
"They bring their own baskets, empty, and whoever arrives at the finish line with the most eggs in their baskets, wins a big surprise prize," she said.
Two surprises, actually. One for each winner from each age group.
Next, comes a shot at a really big prize — two, in fact, "really big baskets, filled with toys and treats" that Orlando calculates "are worth a total value of $250."
For this, she explains, the kids will have to do the exact opposite of run. They will, she says, "have to freeze whenever the bunny hop music stops, and stay frozen till the music starts again."
Anyone who can't, or who even wiggles or giggles, gets eliminated, and the last two still standing in each age group wins a basket filled with $250 in toys and treats."
The day wraps at 4 p.m. when the winner of the big $750 prize basket is drawn.
And if the weather lays an egg? If it should rain on this great, fun-filled family Easter parade?
"Don't worry," says Orlando, "we'll just move all the fun down to Rogers Street, under the covered Cape Ann Savings Bank parking lot."
Joann Mackenzie may be contacted at 978-283-7000x3457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.