SALEM, MA — Before heading to the mall or a big box store this holiday season, Salem officials are asking North Shore residents to consider heading downtown or to a local retailer’s website to see if they can get the same item for about the same price.
Salem on Friday launched the “Stay Local Salem” campaign aimed at supporting local businesses struggling during the coronavirus health crisis.
With tourists told to “stay away” from the city during the typically booming month of October in Halloween’s unofficial hometown, and the state imposing business curfews as virus rates began to rise in November, the campaign is aimed at reminding residents know that local businesses are safe alternatives to retail and online giants this holiday season.
“Before you buy online at a superstore look at businesses in your own backyard and see if you can purchase it next door,” Kate Fox, Executive Director of Destination Salem, told Patch. “There are great stores, great options, downtown. Wear a mask and come down.”
As an added incentive, residents should receive a punch card postcard in the mail this week — which are also available in participating businesses — and can receive a “punch” with every purchase. After five punches, the card can be entered for a chance to win a “Salem Staycation” prize.
“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.
Fox said the new message reflects the desire to bring more people back downtown in a safe and socially distanced way now that things are a lot colder and quieter than they were in the weeks leading up to Halloween.
“The difference in October is we had people coming to Salem from all over the place,” Fox said. “We couldn’t go to Fenway Park or Gillette Stadium. Why should people be going shoulder to shoulder in Salem on Essex Street?
“Those crowds are gone. It’s safe now to go downtown and walk around. We have the lights lit up downtown. It’s festive and pretty.”
Fox allowed that capacity restrictions may cause a brief wait outside for a shop or a museum, but it’s typically a matter of minutes, if at all.
“You are not in a situation where you have to wait an hour,” Fox said.
Fox said restaurants have gone “the extra mile” in putting up partitions, spacing tables and going through enhanced sanitizing protocols to help diners feel secure coming indoors as dropping temperatures make outdoor dining less feasible.
Those less inclined to dine indoors are asked to consider the takeout options that most local restaurants offer over third-party food deliveries from chain restaurants.
“At the end of the day the businesses are doing the best to keep their businesses safe and survive,” Fox said.
Destination Salem has created lists of ideas for presents such as masks, ornaments and other gifts from Salem-based stores and boutiques, as well as local restaurants and museums and tours open this holiday season.
(Scott Souza is a Patch field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at [email protected] Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)
This article originally appeared on the Salem Patch