A new guide to help downtown merchants be a part of the Olympics covers most of the bases, including tips on dealing with the press as well as visitors from Iran, Mongolia and Uruguay of all places.

While knowing Uruguayans make a "ch-ch" sound to beckon someone might be useful if World Cup soccer comes to town, it probably won't come in handy during the 2002 Winter Games. South Americans aren't big on snow sports.

"It just never hurts, I guess" to have cultural information on a variety of countries, said Alison Sheffield, program manager for the Downtown Alliance, the organization that compiled the 50-page booklet.

Nations that are into skiing and sliding don't get much play in the downtown business operations manual. There are no cultural do's and don'ts regarding Austria or Norway, countries bringing large contingents of athletes and fans to the Games scheduled for Feb. 8-24.

But overall, central business district tenants will likely find the maps, dates, telephone numbers, activities and business suggestions a useful reference.

The Alliance made the guides available free of charge to downtown business and property owners Thursday morning at its monthly Olympic forum. Those outside the downtown area may buy a copy for $10. It also is available online at www.downtownslc.org.

"We know we've got some mistakes in here," Bob Farrington, Downtown Alliance executive director said, adding the Web site will be updated as new information comes in.

Winter Games festivities will pretty much take over downtown.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee estimates 50,000 to 80,000 people will converge there each night. Combining that with street closures and traffic, the heart of the city will be highly impacted.

The U.S. Postal Service and United Parcel Service advised merchants Thursday there will be some changes in mail and package delivery and pick-up hours.

Byron Burnett, post office customer services operations manager, said the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command requires some downtown mailboxes to be removed for security reasons. But he said contingency plans are in place to "keep the mail moving no matter what happens during the Olympics."

UPS also intends to beef up its staff and set up three satellite trailers to help handle packages.

"If you can make it through four years of freeway construction, you can make it through two weeks of Olympics here, to say the least," David Reid, UPS division manager told downtown business people.

One of the most helpful pages in the guide might be the 2002 checklist of 40 items stores should do to prepare for the onslaught. It reminds them to be versed in currency exchange rates, tourist information and public transportation routes.

The guide, though, goes so far as to suggest employers train staff to "make a short, positive comment about business during the Games if questioned by visiting journalists."

Sheffield said the suggestion was meant to generate a good "sound bite" about a particular business, not business in general

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee took some flak last month for a handbook that outlines behavior for Olympic volunteers, including giving a rehearsed answer to any questions about the bid scandal. Volunteers also are asked not to speak to the media but to be brief if it is unavoidable.


E-mail: romboy@desnews.com