Apr 052021

Attention Downtown Salem businesses! The City of Salem is participating in the Massachusetts Local Rapid Recovery Plan (LRRP) Program to help communities develop recovery plans for targeted downtowns and commercial districts. The LRRP Program is designed to support business owners and community members by helping the community develop actionable, project-based recovery plans. These plans will be developed in coordination with the local government, customized to the individual economic challenges and COVID-19 related impacts in Downtown Salem. They will include a data analysis as well as an exploration of challenges, barriers, strategies, and actions – taking any shortcomings COVID has exposed and turn them into lasting strengths. Salem Main Streets is functioning as the primary local partner for this program.

We need the input of Downtown Salem business owners to be a key part of revitalizing downtown. Not sure if your business is considered part of the Downtown Salem district? Check the district map above!

Help us help you by taking the LRRP business survey by April 16!

Jan 312021

A modified Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture celebration will happen in Salem from February 1-14, 2021.  This popular annual event has been updated to adhere to public health guidelines required by the COVID-19 pandemic, and organizers are confident the event will provide opportunities to safely get outside, explore Salem, and support small businesses.  In its 19th year, Salem’s So Sweet is a perennial favorite, celebrating delectable chocolate, sparkling ice sculptures, and Valentine’s Day shopping.  It is Salem’s sweetest time of the year!

Organizers of Salem’s So Sweet are committed to supporting local businesses and encouraging safe ways for residents to remain connected to their downtown. As a result, the initiative has been expanded to run two full weeks, February 1 – 14 and to include two weekends. The program will include more options for attendees to enjoy at their own pace, including a SWEET weekend featuring ice sculptures and chocolate on February 6 and 7, and a new HEAT weekend that will feature warming stations and spicy treats.

Many local businesses will offer chocolate specials and sweet discounts around downtown Salem for the duration of Salem’s So Sweet in celebration of Valentine’s Day. In place of the Golden Ticket and brochure, participating promotions will be listed online at Takeout, curbside pickup, online ordering, and other safely distanced options will be highly encouraged. Business promotions will be good Feb. 1 through Feb. 14 unless otherwise specified.

SWEET: February 6 & 7

The annual ice sculptures and ice sculpture illumination will happen on Saturday, February 6.  More than 15 ice sculptures will be installed around downtown Salem, including an owl, gingerbread house, rocking horse, and a Hello Kitty phone. The sculptures will be illuminated by Retonica between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night.  A map and more information will be available online at

HEAT: February 13 & 14

This year things will get hot with warming stations in downtown Salem and a new emphasis on spicy to compliment the Sweet. Love Letters to Salem will pop up around the downtown, including a NEW Love Letter Treasure Hunt! Seek out fragments of a love letter between Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne hidden in windows around the downtown and submit the completed text to be eligible for a prize. More details will be posted online at in February.

The Chocolate & Wine event has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus restrictions. Instead, takeout options from participating restaurants and food purveyors are strongly encouraged and will be promoted throughout the two weeks.

Salem’s So Sweet is organized by Salem Main Streets and the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Goldberg Properties, Groom Construction, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Five, St. Jean’s Credit Union, and Winer Bros. Hardware, with support from Destination Salem, Retonica, Scarlet Letter Press, and the Creative Collective. Visit for more events and details as they become available and follow the Facebook page for all the latest updates at Use the Destination Salem App for the best information about navigating Salem.

Dec 132020

Salem Main Streets and the City of Salem are pleased to announce the completed installation of our 2020 Holiday Tree at Lappin Park. While we were not able to gather to light the tree together this year, the Tree remains a seasonal cornerstone of our downtown and reflects the strength of our community.

The tree this year has been generously donated by The O’Brien Family, delivered by Iron Tree Service and Spencer Contracting, and decorated by Gigi Gill and the City of Salem tree department, with a programmable LED tree topper constructed by Joey Nicotera of Retonica. The tree was sponsored by Gigi Gill, Sis Williams/Dick Simard Barbershop, Morning Glory B&B, John Keenan & Kara McLaughlin, Gulu Gulu Cafe, Flying Saucer Pizza Company, Gypsy Moon, Harrison’s Comics, Vampfangs, and Brian Kennedy. The tree topper is possible through the Salem Winterlude initiative, a new collaboration between Salem Main Streets and Creative Collective, supported through Bench Consulting’s “Winter Places” program with funding from the Barr Foundation.

Dec 092020
A new campaign encourages residents to shop local and support the independently owned small businesses that make Salem, Massachusetts a unique place to live, work, and visit. A mailing to residents, a punch card promotion, new holiday light displays, and new street banners all promote the #StayLocalSalem campaign this winter.

“We want to remind people of the diversity of retail in downtown Salem and encourage them to spend locally and support the businesses that are, in many cases, owned by our friends and neighbors,” says Kylie Sullivan, director of Salem Main Streets, adding, “Shopping in Salem is convenient, safe, and unique.”

Salem’s downtown retail mix includes artists’ studios, jewelry shops, specialty foods, housewares, apparel, and seasonal items. Many of the businesses have built online stores and offer shipping or curbside pick-up. Businesses that are offering in-store shopping have health and safety guidelines in place that include capacity limits, hand sanitizer, and plexiglass barriers to keep employees and shoppers safe.

Many restaurants are open for both take-out and dining in, and most sell gift certificates, which make a great gift! Restaurants have also implemented new safety protocols, including removing tables, adhering to reduced capacity limits, and installing barriers between tables and booths.

Museums including the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Witch Museum, and The House of the Seven Gables are open as well, as are their shops, providing both unique gifts and a safe activity.

“Keeping dollars local helps improve our city’s economy,” says Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, “Our small, creative, locally owned businesses carry unique products and services and are part of our city’s special charm and character. Shopping local helps keep your neighbor in business and ensures your gift is one of a kind!”

More than 50 businesses are participating in the #StayLocalSalem campaign, which kicks off on Friday, December 4. Customers can bring the “Stay Local Salem” postcard to receive a punch with purchase. After five punches, the card can be entered for a chance to win a Salem Staycation prize. Cards are available from participating businesses, as well.

As the COVID crisis continues to evolve and Massachusetts travel order tightens, encouraging local patronage of businesses that are traditionally supported by a mix of tourist and local dollars is crucial to small business survival. To that end, the #StayLocalSalem and #StayLocal2020 campaigns were developed by Creative Collective. The Salem campaign compliments the Massachusetts campaign that encourages residents to put their money where their hearts are and #LoveMyLocalMA.
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Dec 082020
Photo credit – Creative Collective

Salem Main Streets and Creative Collective, in partnership with the City of Salem, are pleased to announce the new Salem Winterlude initiative to bring light and creativity to downtown Salem this winter. The partnership received a Winter Placemaking grant through Bench Consulting’s “Winter Places” program with funding support from the Barr Foundation.

This collaborative project is intended to activate and enhance the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and adjacent public spaces, encouraging safe outdoor and physically distant opportunities for residents to explore and engage with each other throughout the downtown district. Salem Winterlude celebrates our downtown during the holiday season, and will contribute to small business support initiatives as well as community wellness. This initiative will run in tandem with the Stay Local Salem campaign created by Creative Collective and currently being promoted through Destination Salem, the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and Salem Main Streets.

“It is very important to give people a safe and welcoming space outdoors and support our Main Streets economy in these challenging times. The creative community has stepped up throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic and we are very grateful for the flexible spending allowed through this financial support of the Barr Foundation, allowing us to activate and enhance safe public spaces, while commissioning local creative professionals to enhance the activations” says John Andrews, founder of Creative Collective. 

“We have put aside so many of our usual community gatherings this winter,” added Salem Main Streets’ Executive Director, Kylie Sullivan. “Without opportunities to celebrate together physically at our annual Salem Main Streets events like the Tree Lighting, Santa’s Arrival, or New Year’s Eve, it is more important than ever that the downtown feels warm and festive, that our storefronts are bright, and that our community pride shines through wherever possible.”

Components of the Salem Winterlude project will include upgrades to our usual holiday wreaths and ribbons on the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall with new programmable lights, a programmable tree topper for the Holiday Tree on Lappin Park, temporary mural backdrops created by local artists on Salem Common and Derby Square, a seasonal artistic installation at the East India Fountain in partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum, and decorated evergreens and mural backdrops by local artists for Charlotte Forten Park.

The creative partners have begun installing the various components funded through the grant, which will continue and adapt all winter long, including through the Salem’s So Sweet Festival in February.

To get the latest updates follow the hashtags #staylocalsalem and #salemwinterlude, or online at