September 14, 2013

What Salem Businesses have been Banished and which are Sacred Space? 2013 Edition

Maybe all the ghost tours should start mentioning that every time a restaurant tries to open up in the Lyceum building it fails... It could it be a new story they call The Curse of Bridget Bishop?

Keeping a business open in Salem is very difficult, the  downtown district is like a wild garden. Every year I see all the storefronts shifting and blinking, fading and blooming with enterprise and the hope of success. Some make it and some don't. 

Some are banished and others become sacred space.

Witch Shops - Most of the local witch shops are doing great  this year, and a few new ones are in town.

Archangel Michael holding down the spot at Magicka.

Things are getting confusing for tourists when they visit Pickering Wharf now that two well-respected local elders with similar sounding names are teaching classes and doing readings out of their new spaces! Firstly, the famous Laurie Cabot has some students that opened up a shop called Enchanted, where she can sometimes be found, but Lori Bruno, who has also become a local fixture in recent years, had just opened up her new shop Magicka in the space previously left open by Laurie Cabot when her shop "The Official Witch" shut down. 

The Salem Witch House, often confused for a witch shop.

Crow Haven Corner, Laurie Cabot's old shop on Essex Street, has been owned by a student/friend of hers ALSO named Laurie, who goes by Lorelei to try to avoid confusion. Tourists already get so bewildered I don't know how they are going to handle this further Laurie/Lori complication! Regardless, I wish the best to both of them. They are each in their own way the epitome of what we expect for and love in an elder.

The big three witch shops on Essex street (Crow, Hex, and Omen) are doing great. Word is that Hex New Orleans is doing great as well, people are joking saying soon it will be a franchise and we'll see a Hex in every mall, like Hot Topic. 

Also, it ends up that the guys from the World of Witches Museum that failed last year left town while they still owed a bunch of their employees money. Their whole "Young Witches of Salem" reality show idea ended up being a huge embarrassment of a failure so they blamed the city and left.

Same thing just happened with another guy who moved to Salem and suddenly started acting like he was an important witch and demanding respect. After a couple years of sashaying around downtown he opened up a shop and when it failed he blamed the city. The thing is, the witches around here are already established, successful, and respected - you can not just barge into the city and begin speaking on behalf of all Salem witches. It's a recipe for failure. Anyone with a successful witch shop in this city has lived around here for decades.

From the outside they may just look like a bunch of crazy people but that's only because Salem witches have to deal with so much ridiculous nonsense all the time and they have learned to to take it in stride and have fun with it. And that is what they are teaching me to do. After all, our mission is to educate people on our craft and in some cases entertain as well. You can't be grumpy and do that, you have to laugh!

Restaurants - Honestly I'm getting really annoyed with all the people who keep trying to open up restaurants in Salem that are just slightly too classy for our local atmosphere, but their successes and failures make a really interesting competitive local restaurant economy. This year a bunch of boring classy restaurants have opened or are opening up, but I want to move on to more interesting things like cupcakes, candy, and ice cream.
This sign is on the window across the street from my apartment on Washington st.:

We have a few very good places to get local baked goods like a & J kings and coffee time, but is this going to be a shop devoted specifically to cupcakes? That is something unique in Salem but becoming a trend in many cities across the country, so you know it is a sure-fire business plan, kind of like food trucks. When is Salem going to start getting food trucks? I'm telling you there's money in that.

We also have a new candy shop on Essex Street called Sugar Rush(no website yet). it offers some different things than the other candy shops in town but is pretty standard. it's an awesome location so they will do it extremely well, I mean you can't go wrong with candy.

And, as if we didn't have enough ice cream shops, Salem Screamery opened up where Ben and Jerry's used to be. They have some unique flavors but for the most part get their ice cream from Richardson's like all the other places in town, which is the favorite dairy of most locals.

Tourist attractions - This year one of the haunted houses in the mall is shut down, and another on Essex Street stopped being haunted and it changed its subject to general Salem history. Another one on the wharf keeps changing and no one can quite figure out what it is. During high season a few more places will become haunted house attractions, but right now there is only one in the city, The Witch Mansion. We'll see how this develops as October approaches.

Salem's 3D Time Machine tour museum thingy.

The haunted house 13 Ghosts has been changed into a really cute and cheesy history tour thing that I surprisingly enjoyed and hope tourists check out. It looks like a college kid constructed it with a low budget, but has a lot of heart, takes like 15 minutes and mentions a lot of random Salem history in a way tourists can easily understand. It also looks as though it can easily be converted into a haunted house for when it gets busy.

The Griffin Theater has now re-branded itself as the Gallows Hill Theater. I can only assume this is a conscious effort to confuse tourists into going there. 

Pioneer Village has been neglected and utilized on and off throughout the years, and this year an enthusiastic group of people is planning a "haunted event" called Terror at the Village:

The city is buzzing with energy and about to bubble over as we get closer to October. At any moment most business downtown could disappear for any reason - but some seem blessed, some seem lucky, and others are sacred space.