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 😉

Oct 062018



Salem is going to the dogs (and cats, and lizards, and pigs, and…)! Salem Main Streets is very pleased to produce the fourth annual Howl-o-ween Pet Parade, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 1 pm on Derby Wharf, Salem Maritime National Historic Site.

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.

This year, Salem Main Streets is asking all parade participants to register online in advance and have added a small donation of $5. All proceeds go directly to Salem Main Streets in support of special community programs all year round.

“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. “I am so excited to move down to the Wharf this year, where we will have more room to spread out and the great backdrop of Salem Harbor. 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.”

Spectators are encouraged to join us on Derby Wharf or along the loop on Pickering Wharf, perhaps even “tail”-gaiting on Longboards’ dog-friendly patio.

Aug 142018

In case you missed it, the annual Best of the North Shore (BONS) awards have been announced by North Shore Magazine for 2018! As usual, Salem businesses gave a strong showing among the awardees – listed below are all the winners located in Salem. Are your favorites included? Maybe a few that you’d never considered trying? Congratulations to all the 2018 winners!


Bacon – Back Alley Bacon (Readers’ Choice)

Bakery/Bread – A&J King (Editors’ and Readers’ Choice)

Brunch – Ledger

Fish & Chips – Turners Seafood at Lyceum Hall (Readers’)

Gluten-Free – Jodi Bee Bakes (Readers’)

Indian – Passage to India (Editors’ and Readers’)

Mexican – Howling Wolf Taqueria (Editors’ and Readers’)

Mussels – Sea Level Oyster Bar, Salem

Pizza – Bambolina

Ramen – Kokeshi (Editors’ and Readers’)

Raw Bar – Sea Level Oyster Bar, Salem

Seafood – Turners Seafood at Lyceum Hall (Readers’)

Sushi – Koto (Readers’, tie)

Tacos – Howling Wolf (Readers’)

Vegetarian – Life Alive (Editors’ and Readers’)



Bar – Opus (Readers’)

Beer Garden – Notch (Readers’)

Beer Menu – Gulu Gulu Café (Readers’)

Cocktail – Opus (Readers’)

Distillery – Rumson’s Rum

Hard Cider – Far From the Tree (Editors’ and Readers’)

Juice Bar – Life Alive (Readers’)

Tap Room – Notch (Readers’)

Winery – Mill River Winery (Editors’ and Readers’) – Rowley business, sells at Salem Farmers’ Market



Bake Shop – Caramel Patisserie (Editors’, tie), A&J King (Readers’)

Candies – Ye Olde Pepper Companie (Editors’), Harbor Sweets (Readers’, tie)

Chocolate – Harbor Sweets

Cookies – Goodnight Fatty

Dessert – Counter at Hotel Salem

Ice Cream – Melt (tie)



Yoga – Yoga Sakti



Dance Studio – Dance Enthusiasm (Readers’)

Family Hangout, Indoor – Peabody Essex Museum (Editors’ and Readers’)

Festival (Fall) – Haunted Happenings (Editors’ and Readers’)

Festival (Spring) – Salem Film Fest

Museum – Peabody Essex Museum (Editors’ and Readers’)

Tourist Attraction – House of the Seven Gables (Readers’)



Books – Wicked Good Books (Readers’)

Cheese Shop – Cheese Shop of Salem (Editors’ and Readers’)

Clothing, Women’s Upscale – J. Mode (Readers’)

Makeup Selection – Rouge (tie)

Yoga Apparel – Yoga Sakti (Readers’)



Gourmet Market – The Cheese Shop of Salem (plus tie for Readers’)

Personal Chef Service – Fine Food and Cooking by J. Ricardo Sanchez



Billiards – Village Tavern (Readers’)

Date Night – Opus (Readers’)

First Date – Bit Bar (Readers’)

Girls’ Night Out – Sea Level Oyster Bar, Salem

Guys’ Night Out – Bit Bar