Mar 282020

The CARES Act was passed at the federal level on March 27, 2020, and for the past 24 hours we have been hearing understandable confusion from the business community as they try to understand what it all means and what they should be doing. Here are some of the different components of the CARES Act that we at Salem Main Streets feel might directly apply to Salem’s small businesses and businessowners. You can also see our full list of COVID-19 resources here.

NOTE: This should NOT be considered a definitive guide or expert advice – this is simply the best we have been able to do with the information currently available to try and boil it down to the basics. Very few agencies or lenders will have had time to react to this information yet, so please be patient as they try to catch up in the next week. We also anticipate that far better resources will be available in the coming week to help you navigate these new laws and opportunities, which we will share as we find them.

Paycheck Protection

  • 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payrolls during the COVID-19 crisis to be used for payroll, mortgage interest, and other qualified expenses
  • Loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.
  • Eligible if you are:
    • A small business with fewer than 500 employees
    • A small business that otherwise meets the SBA’s size standard
    • A 501(c)(3) with fewer than 500 employees
    • An individual who operates as a sole proprietor
    • An individual who operates as an independent contractor
    • An individual who is self-employed who regularly carries on any trade or business
    • A Tribal business concern that meets the SBA size standard
    • A 501(c)(19) Veterans Organization that meets the SBA size standard
  • Lenders offering these loans have not yet been listed, but my understanding is that it would be any bank that currently offers SBA 7(a) Loans
  • Best resource with far more detail –

Changes/expansions to the SBA Economic Industry Disaster Loans (EIDLs)

These are the federal loans we have already been heavily promoting (, only now they have been expanded with extra benefits:

  • EIDLs are now also available to Tribal businesses, cooperatives, and ESOPs with fewer than 500 employees. They are also available to all non-profit organizations, including 501(c)(6)s, and to individuals operating as sole proprietors or independent contractors.
  • Borrowers can now receive a $10,000 emergency grant cash advance that can be forgiven if spent on paid leave, maintaining payroll, increased costs due to supply chain disruption, mortgage or lease payments or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.
  • Our local Small Business Development Center is probably one of the best resources to learn more about this – if you do not have a SBDC advisor yet or forgot their name, please email: Kaitlin Muldoon:

***Can a business get an EIDL and a Paycheck Protection Program loan?

Yes, small businesses can get both an EIDL and a Paycheck Protection Program loan as long as they don’t pay for the same expenses. However, be sure to check with your financial advisor or lender before taking both types of loans if you are not sure of the specifics.

Relief for Existing SBA Loans

If you already HAVE an existing SBA loan, you may be eligible to have up to six months of payments covered. Contact your lender to find out more.

Business tax provisions

There is a LOT to unpack here, so my best recommendation would be to eventually discuss them with a tax professional about which might apply to your company – you should have time to do this as the dust settles. But some of the interesting highlights include:

  • Businesses are eligible for an employee retention tax credit if 1.) your business operations were fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19 shut-down order; or 2.) gross receipts declined by more than 50% compared to the same quarter in the prior year. Eligible businesses can get a refundable 50% tax credit on wages up to $10,000 per employee. The credit can be obtained on wages paid or incurred from March 13, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
  • Businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, will be able to immediately write off costs associated with improving facilities, increasing cash flow.
  • The government will make a temporary exception from the excise tax normally applied to alcohol, if that alcohol was used to produce hand sanitizer in 2020.

Payments for Individuals

  • Individuals who make less than $75,000 a year will receive direct payments of $1,200 per individual ($2,400 joint return)
  • Plus $500 per child
  • This will phase out for incomes above $75,000 ($150,000 joint filings).

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program

  • Unemployment benefits will now extend to business owners, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, gig workers, and those with a limited work history and history of wages earned.
  • To obtain pandemic unemployment insurance coverage, contact the state unemployment office:

Extra Unemployment Benefits

  • An additional $600 per week in unemployment from the federal government on top of whatever base amount a worker receives from the state. That boosted payment will last for four months.
  • Unemployment insurance has been expanded to last 39 weeks.

Health Insurance Coverage

  • All private insurance plans must cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccine
  • All coronavirus tests free

Additional (smaller) changes to the previously passed Family First Coronavirus Response Act

These are finer points that primarily tweak the exact caps and parameters of how much businesses may be required to pay IF your employee meets the requirements to be covered by this law. We will post a clearer resource spelling out the corrected changes once we find one!

Mar 122020

UPDATE – if you are a Salem business owner looking for resources, please look HERE

At Salem Main Streets, we are increasingly concerned for the physical health but also the future economic health of our community. With details changing every hour, it is hard to know how best to advise and support the downtown district that we serve. The practice of social distancing appears to be a wise course of action from a public health standpoint but will undeniably have overwhelming and lasting impacts for our downtown. Here are a couple low-risk ways you can help in the meantime:

Retail/service businesses – if they have an online store, use it to buy that special item you’ve been coveting! Gift cards for future use are a great way to treat those you love while supporting the businesses you care about now. Book yourself a summer spa day– schedule a massage, a mani/pedi, yoga class, etc. for a date in the future.

Restaurants – if they offer takeout, use that option! Do they sell gift certificates? Purchase one to support the local business, and consider gifting it to a friend you know in the service or hospitality industry – as businesses are forced to tighten up payroll, the hospitality workforce is already being hit hard.

Attractions, Tours, and Hotels – Plan a summer staycation!  Book a night at a downtown hotel you’ve never seen the inside of, that local tour you’ve been meaning to take, that attraction you always notice lines for. Cancellations are high for these businesses right now, and being able to plan for future income will be of vital importance.

Events – Have you bought a ticket for an upcoming event that may be cancelled or postponed? Can you afford to decline any offered refunds? Consider it a donation for a venue or organization you care about. Just because the event is cancelled doesn’t mean there are no expenses, not to mention the loss of the anticipated income.

Nonprofits – Springtime is gala/fundraiser season for a lot of nonprofits, and cancelling these events leaves a major hole in their operating budgets. Again, consider forfeiting your ticket as a donation if you are able, and keep your eyes peeled for any online giving opportunities they may shift to instead. (I hate to say it, but SMS is also going to need some support – find out how here)

Artisans – now is a great time to make a special commission with a local artist you love! Many are planning ahead for summer street fairs and markets, which means a lot of upfront costs on registration fees and materials.

Know before you go. Adjustments are being made by the hour. Check social media/web if you can before making plans. Destination Salem is doing their best to track updates and cancellations here –

Above all else, be kind to yourself and to others. Do not push yourself to attend something that does not feel safe to you. Try not to judge a business or organization for a cancellation or closing, or for staying open and pushing through. No one is making these decisions lightly, and information available is changing by the day. Know that we at Salem Main Streets will be here to share whatever news we can, and do everything we can to help our downtown bounce back into full action, whenever that might be.

Dec 072019

The holidays are here, and Salem is dressing up for the season with trees, wreaths, and ribbons. As part of the festive fun, downtown businesses decorate their windows especially for the holidays. Judges nominated by Salem Main Streets will make the rounds to vote on the best windows. Award categories typically highlight good retail design – use of store products or display of a business’ services – or types of design, like most traditional.

Windows will begin to be decorated and ready for judging by Dec. 7th. Winners will be announced by Dec. 14th. This year’s participating businesses currently include:

1 Harrison’s Comics & Pop Culture, 252 Essex St.
2 Vampfangs, 244 Essex St.
3 Gulu-Gulu Café, 247 Essex St.
4 Flying Saucer Pizza Company, 118 Washington St.
5 Turner’s Seafood, 43 Church St.
6 LightShed Photography, 79 Washington St.
7 Coon’s Card & Gift Shop, 226 Essex St.
8 J. Mode, 17 Front St.
9 Trolley Depot, 191 Essex St.
10 Modern Millie Shop, 3 Central St.
11 nAGLY, inside Witch City Mall
12 Witch Pix, 172 Essex St.
13 Salem Collective of Artists & Musicians, 179 Essex St.
14 Kakawa Chocolate House, 173, Essex St.
15 Moody Home & Goods, 131-1 Essex St.
16 Beautiful Things, 127 Essex St.
17 Remember Salem,127 Essex St.
18 SATV, 285 Derby St.
19 The Happy Sunflower, 78 Wharf St.
20 Partridge in a Bear Tree, 82 Wharf St.
21 Salemdipity, 86 Wharf St.
22 Style Snoop, 96 Wharf St.

Nov 292019

Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30, 2019) is a time to steer away from the major corporations of the world and support your local mom-and-pop shop. Salem is iconic for Halloween and maritime history, but is also increasingly known for its impressive collection of small businesses all year round. There are dozens of sweet deals you can get from our dynamic brick and mortars, and Small Business Saturday is the day to do it.

In 2010, small businesses were still suffering from the recession. In return, American Express birthed Small Business Saturday in an effort draw awareness to the diversity and necessity of healthy small businesses in the US. By 2013, more than 1,400 individuals and organizations had signed up as Neighborhood Champions, who have led 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.  Small Business Saturday spending has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day began in 2010.

Why does this matter so much for Salem? Downtown Salem is made up of over 250 active storefronts. The vast majority of these storefronts (at least 90%!) are locally-owned and operated. Imagine what our downtown would look like without them. At least a third of downtown storefront businesses are microenterprises (fewer than five full-time employees) – when we say small business, we really mean small! Amex estimates that for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. So when you choose these small businesses over a larger corporation, two-thirds of your money stays here in our local economy.

Of the 30 new storefronts that have opened in downtown Salem in the last 2 years, 50% were filled by homegrown local businesses that started off as street fair or farmers market vendors, gaining community support before moving into a permanent space. Many downtown businessowners told us that they opened a business in Salem specifically because they lived here. These are not just faceless businesses – these are our neighbors, and their passion for serving their community sets them apart. Celebrate the beauty of an independent venture and keep Salem vibrant all year-round by participating in Small Business Saturday this Saturday, November 30, 2019!

Oct 082019
Photo Credit – Joey Phoenix Photography

Salem is going to the dogs (and cats and lizards and bunnies), and we couldn’t be happier about it! Salem Main Streets is very pleased to produce the fifth annual Howl-o-ween Pet Parade, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 1 pm on Derby Wharf, Salem Maritime National Historic Site (160 Derby Street).

“This started as a very casual little event, and every year we grow more and more,” says Kylie Sullivan, Executive Director of Salem Main Streets. “Salem is such a pet-friendly city; it seemed like a no-brainer that we needed a community pet parade during Haunted Happenings. It’s such a special way to engage our residents, appeal to our visitors, and celebrate our local business community. We loved our move down to Derby Wharf last year, where we have more room to spread out and the great backdrop of Salem Harbor.”

The event will include an area with information about the National Park Service Bark Ranger Program, local rescues and pet-focused downtown businesses, and most importantly, a parade and costume contest with prizes. Pets of all species are welcome, but should be well-behaved and comfortable at a busy event where there are likely to be many dogs. The parade is rain or shine. Registration begins at 1 pm, with the Parade generally kicking off between 1:30 and 1:45 with a loop around Derby and Central Wharves, and ending with the costume contest.

Salem Main Streets asks all parade participants to register online in advance if possible, with a small donation of $5. All proceeds go directly to Salem Main Streets in support of special community programs all year round. Online registration is now closed, but you can still register pets onsite the day of the parade.

The 2019 Howl-o-ween Pet Parade is supported by primary sponsor New England Dog Biscuit Company, Witch Pix, Scarlet Letter Press, and Noble Beasts Pet Care.