Dec 062018

The holidays are here, and Salem is dressed for the season with trees, wreaths, and ribbons. To top it off, over 30 downtown businesses have decorated their windows especially for the holidays.  Judges nominated by Salem Main Streets made the rounds early this week to vote on the best windows.

“We had some truly fantastic windows this year, as always,” said Kylie Sullivan, Salem Main Streets Executive Director. “We give the judges the freedom to create new award categories based on what they see each particular year – but even then, we didn’t manage to squeeze in all the windows we loved!”

Some award categories highlight good retail design – use of store products or display of a business’ services – or types of design, like most traditional. The Contest Newcomer recognizes businesses with high quality displays who have not previously or regularly participated in the contest. A “Salem Main Streets Shout-Outs” category was also created this year for businesses that ended up on several judges’ final lists and were deserving of recognition.

“I was especially impressed by how much work and detail went into so many of this year’s windows,” said Sullivan. “I encourage everyone to take their time and look closely at the competing windows to see how many fine details went into the trees and tableaus.”

A full set of images can be found online at

Best Overall: Mark Your Spot

            Honorable Mention – Witch City Wicks and Witch Pix

Best Use of Product: Witch City Consignment & Thrift

            Honorable Mention – Pamplemousse and Modern Millie Shop

Best Traditional: Turner’s Seafood

            Honorable Mention – Remember Salem and LightShed Photography

Contest Newcomer: Grace & Diggs and Vampfangs

Salem Main Streets Shout-Outs: Coon’s Card and Gifts, The Happy Sunflower, and Emporium 32



Nov 232018

Local businesses and restaurants are the heart and soul of any city. These businesses attract people with an authentic ambience that big corporations could never replace. They are what make each city unique. Salem in particular is a prime example of how important these local businesses are to the community. Between the rich history of the city, and its unique business and innovative restaurant scene, Salem has established itself as a premier location in the North Shore area. One event that really helps support these local shops and keeping the community presence strong in Salem is Small Business Saturday.

In 2010, small businesses were really hurting from the recession. To help combat the lack of revenue these local businesses were receiving, American Express decided to launch Small Business Saturday. This event took place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday was created to encourage people to “Shop Small” and support their local businesses. The event was a hit, and started gaining momentum nationwide.

One year later, the Shop Small movement continued to gain momentum, and local officials across the country took notice and also started promoting Small Business Saturday. It was also in 2011, that the Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of this day and officials in all 50 states began to participate.The local officials were not alone in supporting this movement, because 2011 was also the year business associations, nonprofit trade groups, municipalities, and public officials started to unite by forming a Small Business Saturday Coalition, which encouraged everyone to Shop Small. By the year’s end, nearly 100 corporations lent their official support to this growing movement. 

By 2013, more than 1,400 individuals and organizations have signed up as Neighborhood Champions, who have lead the way by rallying their respective communities by hosting events and activities on Small Business Saturday. The number of Neighborhood Champions have grown annually, and by 2017, there were more than 7,200 Neighborhood Champions across all 50 states. 

 It’s really amazing how fast Small Business Saturday has grown. Since its inception, Small Business Saturday has attracted U.S. customers to spend an estimated total of $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants, which averages out to $85 billion over an 8 day period. This positive result is proof of how important local businesses are to their respective communities.

For a city like Salem, where the community and business presence are strong all year round, Small Business Saturday isn’t just another day to go shopping, it is a time to celebrate the city’s amazing retail and restaurant scene with fellow community members. So come out, take advantage of the free parking (YES, FREE PARKING), and enjoy Small Business Saturday in Salem.


Nov 212018

Salem is known for being a famous destination during Halloween season, but the breadth and depth of retail in the downtown district also make it the ideal destination for your holiday shopping. Salem Main Streets works with local partners and businesses to encourage local shopping opportunities all season long. From established brick and mortar storefronts to artisan products at holiday markets, you can find a range of options for everyone on your list!               

Everyone knows that the weekend after Thanksgiving is when people’s holiday shopping starts going into overdrive, and this is especially true in downtown Salem. On Saturday, November 24, between 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Salem Main Streets is partnering with the Salem Chamber of Commerce to organize Salem’s annual Small Business Saturday event. Small Business Saturday is part of the “Shop Small” movement initiated by American Express to encourage holiday shoppers to shop local on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We are tracking a list of various promotions and discounts that local businesses will be offering all across town, so be sure to check!

If you missed our first Salem Winter Market, don’t fret – we’ll be back again in December! To help kick off the holiday shopping season, the Salem Winter Market, which is a seasonal extension of the Salem Farmers’ Market, gives community members and tourists alike access to over 20 different vendors. Some of the vendors will be familiar faces, and some of them are new to this event, but rest assured, they all want to help you prepare for Thanksgiving and the busy holiday season. The December market will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15th between 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Old Town Hall, which is located on 32 Derby Square.         

The holiday festivities don’t end there for the business district. Salem Main Streets will be hauling out the holly very seriously this year on the first weekend of December. If you are around on Saturday, December 1st, you will likely see a hardy group of SMS and Beautification Committee volunteers out climbing lampposts to hang 100 wreaths and wrap almost 200 poles with festive red ribbon. In addition, the first weekend of December will serve as the kickoff for Salem Main Streets’ annual Holiday Window Contest. Over 30 storefronts participate annually, and the SMS judges will be making the rounds on Sunday, Dec. 2nd to decide which business has the best windows. The competition for this contest can get fierce, but the result is a business community that resonates with a festive holiday spirit. And if you are also enjoying Christmas in Salem, Historic Salem’s beloved historic house tour, don’t forget that some businesses are offering promotions to anyone with a Christmas in Salem program book!

As you can see, Salem is a shopper’s paradise during the holiday season. The city is host an incredible scene featuring numerous innovative businesses that you just don’t find at your local mall. There is a reason Salem is considered to be the hotspot in the North Shore. Come down to join us at one or all of our fantastic shopping events, and you can find out why.


Nov 192018

Santa Arrives at the Hawthorne! Photo Credit – John Andrews / Creative Collective

The holiday season is known for spending quality time with friends and family, giving to others, and celebrating the holiday spirit. The town of Salem takes great pride in celebrating the holiday season. Every year Salem Main Streets celebrates by hosting events for community members to ring in the holiday season together.

The first event that will be kick off the celebration will be Santa’s Arrival and Holiday Tree Lighting. This event will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 23 at the Hawthorne  Hotel/Salem Common and Lappin Park. This beloved annual tradition begins with Santa Claus arriving at the top of the Hawthorne Hotel at 18 Washington Square. If you are afraid that Santa will get stuck on the top of the hotel, don’t be, Santa will luckily be accompanied by the Salem Fire Department. Santa is known for being very timely, so we encourage everyone to arrive at the Common by 5:45 p.m. at the latest.

As if Santa’s arrival wasn’t exciting enough, it will be followed by a procession down the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, where Santa will be joined by Mayor Kimberley Driscoll for the annual lighting of Salem’s Holiday Tree at Lappin Park. The destination is fairly easy to get to, with it being located next to the Bewitched Statue at the intersection of Essex Street and Washington Street. Participants are encouraged to bring lanterns (store-bought or homemade) to carry in the procession. Safety first, though – electric candles are highly recommended (and available for $1 at the event)!

Once at the tree, you can look forward to hot cocoa thanks to Gulu-Gulu Cafe, Victorian carolers thanks to History Alive, and of course, lots of photo op time with Santa after the Tree Lighting!

 There is little question that the people of Salem take a lot of pride in celebrating with one another over the holidays. The coming months are filled with events and activities that the whole community can truly enjoy. These annual local holiday traditions help maintain the bonds between community members and businesses strong. These bonds are the foundation that has built Salem into a thriving community, and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Happy holidays everyone!








Nov 092018

It is no secret that October in Salem is commonly referred to as our “fifth season” – it’s just drastically different than any other month of the year. The weeks leading up in September can feel equally intense at times, and even the first week of November is often still buzzing. Add Election Day to that, and it usually takes over a week after Halloween for the downtown energy to feel back to “normal.”

That’s when the real local love kicks in. There is just something special about November in Salem. We asked around a bit, and here are just a few reasons why #localslovenovember!

Getting back to your favorite local businesses – sometimes, with the high foot traffic in October, it can be hard to get into your favorite restaurant, or grab that quick cup of coffee you’re used to, or check in with your favorite shopowner. November means being able to catch your favorite table that’s always available at 11 am, or having time to chat with a salesperson about new products they got in.

Pro tip: October is a great time for our businesses, but it can be tough on their social media reviews. Our downtown businesses traditionally get lower ratings in October than any time of year, due to long lines, tired servers, and an increase in visitors who may have unrealistic expectations (this is true for many communities during their busiest times, not taking a dig at our October visitors here!). Take a tip from Octocog’s Five Star Fridays and fight back by leaving positive reviews on social media for your favorite businesses. 

Time to reflect – a number of locals noted how much they love having the time to slow down and truly enjoy the beauty of Salem during November. Beautiful foliage frames the harbor, the parks, and the streets. Take time out in the morning on the Custom House steps with a cup of coffee to soak it all in.

Traffic and parking – this almost goes without saying, and it’s not like every traffic or parking problem is solved the second the Halloween fireworks end. But things become infinitely more predictable, and your usual shortcuts and secret parking spots are there waiting for you.

Sales galore – a lot of our retailers are swiftly trying to off-load their Halloween merchandise to make more room for their holiday merchandise. This is great news for you! Visit any of our local shops this time of year and you’re likely to find lots of great deals, AND maybe get a scoop on the new holiday goods. And speaking of…

The holidays are here! – November also means that we start hauling out the holly and the good cheer. Some residents told us that they love watching the winter greenery pop up on historic homes, others love the big community events like Santas Arrival and the Holiday Tree Lighting,  and others love smaller less-official community traditions, like grabbing a drink with friends at The Lobster Shanty on Thanksgiving Day. Which leads us to…

– Community spirit – consistently, the thing Salemites seem to love the most about November is the chance to spend time with each other.  From bumping into each other on the street, to making time to catch a movie, to showing up to light the tree on Lappin Park with your neighbors, on of the very best things about downtown Salem in November and all year round are the people who call it home.

To celebrate November, we are bringing back our #localslovenovember social media challenge for this long weekend. Between Friday, Nov. 9 and Monday, Nov. 12th, just post a pic of yourself, a storeowner, or an item you are purchasing while at a downtown shop or service (dentist, salon, etc.) with the tag #localslovenovember. Two lucky winners will be selected to win a whole roll of quarters to help with that still-existing parking 😉