Drivers waiting through the series of traffic lights on Howe Avenue often see the bubbly Statue of Liberty mascot waving to passersby during tax season.
"Nine out of 10 times, when you ask somebody, 'How did you hear about us?' It's not from an advertisement, it's not a neon sign. It's the Statue of Liberty outside," said Yousaf Kashmiri, owner of Liberty Tax Service.
When days are particularly frigid, he said those dressed as the mascot come inside every half-hour to warm up. On Wednesday afternoon, Ashley Horwedel, a college student from Michigan, wore the costume.
Liberty Tax Service has 1,900 locations nationwide and Kashmiri owns franchises in Shelton, Ansonia and Bridgeport. The Shelton location at 479 Howe Avenue opened seven years ago.
Kashmiri said his Shelton office handled 200 tax returns in it's first year and steadily built up to between 600 and 700 returns a year.
"The H&R Block across the street thinks we're taking away customers, but they have the same numbers," Kashmiri said. "That shows more people are coming to Howe Avenue to do their taxes."
This year, Liberty is offering a $50 rebate on the spot. "These people need help and $50 goes a long way," Kashmiri said of families living in a sputtering economy.
Waver will continue to beckon people in to do their returns. Kashmiri said a rotation of six employees wear the costume.
"It's fun stuff," he said of having a mascot. "It's not an intense environment here. We want to have fun."