March 12, 2012

What's Been Banished and What is Sacred Space - Changing Businesses in Downtown Salem 2012

[I can't believe it's already been a year. Spring is here and the usual musical-chairs of businesses coming and going has left us with lots of interesting stories. So, here's What's Been Banished and What is Sacred Space 2012.]

Many people make the mistake of thinking Salem is a tourist town, but with the many faces the city wears we have infinite varieties of businesses.

One of the things I have always found fascinating is the ever-changing storefronts on Essex st, and the failure and success of local businesses. So what's new in downtown Salem this year? What businesses have gone to the gallows? Here are a few of the ones I consider noteworthy.

But first, A Salem Witch meme.
 The Upper Crust Falls Down - Lots of people, including myself, had no idea about the allegations of corruption at this franchise's Salem location. Most locals hardly went there because the pizza was way too expensive. Suddenly the place was closed and lots of people were talking about how badly the owner treated the workers. Apparently, after being "ordered to pay more than $80,000 in back pay by the Department of Labor for violating federal overtime and record-keeping laws", they just couldn't afford to stay open! Public sentiment is strongly against them.

 An upper-downward spiral.

The Coven has Disbanded - The best new place in town just up and leaves. Now there is nowhere to get Vegan BLTs (VLTs), gluten-free vegan cupcakes, or sandwiches named after famous pop-culture icons and 80s cartoon superheroes. W - T - F. Coven announced the news via their Facebook page which has since become a sad memorial full of people commenting begging them not to leave and saying how much they'll be missed. Luckily, the space was sold to an AMAZING vegetarian restaurant called Life Alive which will be opening soon, so it's not a complete loss. Still sucks, the menu at Life Alive looks absolutely awesome, but I don't see any mention of vegan BLTs. :(

Life Alive, coming soon. [via: midge]

Bangkok's Back - Looks like Salem's loudest Thai food bar is back with a vengeance. I live on Washington st right near them and can testify to this. Last night (Sunday) Bangkok Paradise was the very last bar in the area still open and seemed busy. I honestly love this place, mostly just for their food. The old owner always tried to keep the nights varied with different genres of music, lets hope the new owners keep it diverse. [Edit: Looks like they are. I wonder if they'll do that goth night again? They actually did dubstep last night, I could hear it out my window! wubwubwub]

That Place that Replaced Asahi is Gone - I never even got a chance to go to Lakay Island before they shut down. It's crazy that business can't succeed there just because of lack of traffic. The location is right in the center of Essex st so you have to park and walk there, but it's just a great location, someone really needs to do something with it that will last.

Laurie Cabot's Shop Closes Forever - It's the end of an era. See full story here.

The World of Witches Gets a Bit Smaller - When the guys from The World of Witches Museum first opened up we were confused about what they were exactly. Were they a school? A Youtube channel? A tourist attraction? A branch of a tradition of a coven? Reality TV stars? Either way - the dreaded winter slow season, the same barren winter the first settlers in Salem faced, has claimed another victim. Even a desperate Kickstarter campaign and tons of eBay posts couldn't get them enough funding to survive. For more info and some quotes, The Wild Hunt did a write-up. [EDIT: Added 3/30/12]

Witch Shops Get Dissed on Central st. - Well well, then. Apparently the owner of a certain building on Central st would prefer to get rid of the witch/psychic shops and replace them with some cute yuppie nonsense. Both The Broom Closet and Angelica's of the Angels have relocated to new places, both are actually better and more visible. The interesting part of this is simply the fact that the community has become so aware of the building owner's anti-witch shop opinions. Is that really true? Did the dude want to get rid of them? That's what word around town is... Either way, they left peacefully it seems.

Life and Death has Resurrected Spellbound Tours - Stitching together the pieces of two deceased tours into an undoubtedly wonderful monster, the former owner  of Life and Death Tours (and shop),  Nichole (of Orange Nichole) is the proud new owner of Spellbound Tours. Her trusty sideshow freak performer friend, who, years ago, was Spellbound's original top rated tour guide is back in town after traveling with America's last traveling sideshow, World of Wonders. If anybody can save the company they can. No word yet on if or where they will have a store front. I expect they will.

Speaking of Tours... - Tour Season officially starts April 1st, but the weather has been so nice, some of the ghost tours have already had decent groups for a while. The Salem Witch Walk had unprecedented success last year and we're expecting big things to come in 2012. Salem's newest tour, Paranormal Salem, has been doing great as well. The Salem Trolley is out and about, and that's really how locals tell tourist season is back. Also, there is a new RUNNING tours company which is a hilarious trend sweeping the tourism industry in every major city in the same way that segway tours have.

 Always makes me think of Mr. Rogers.

Salem is always changing, so expect another post next year, or even sooner, to see what's been banished and what is sacred space in the Witch City.