A secluded, wooded site may be an enviable spot for a home, but not for a neighborhood shopping center, say the merchants of Seven Locks Plaza in Rockville.

A group of store owners in the six-year-old mall appeared before the Rockville City Council last week to ask the lawmakers for permission to post a sign on Seven Locks Road, in an attempt to attract customers.

The plaza, offering a variety of specialty shops and a convenience food store, is located off Seven Locks Road, up an incline and is surrounded by dense woods. Drivers approaching the mall from heavily traveled Montrose Road could easily bypass the plaza because "we're invisible to them," said Joseph Kasser, owner of the Seven Locks Pharmacy. "There are people who have lived two miles from her for years and aren't even aware we exist."

George Brugger, attorney for the group, told the council a sign is important to attract business during the coming holiday season. "The mall serves the community very nicely for those who know it's there."

Rifka Glatz, owner of the children's clothing shop known as Design Patch, said, "It's a little awkward when you give directions to a customer. You have to tell them it's up a hill and it looks like we're stuck in the woods."

Ed Jurgrau, owner of the Shoe Train, said the sign could increase sales at the mall considerably. According to Robert Parrish, president of the merchants association, mall retailers have been asking the city for permission to post a sign there for almost three years.

Brugger said the merchants already have a suitable sign which could be erected as soon as the city gives merchants the go-ahead.

The council will decide on the matter next week.