Welcome to the first post in the Haunted Happenings series! If you’ve ever been to Salem during Halloween, you know that they host Haunted Happenings every year, but it can be pretty damn chaotic. As a local, I actually avoid Salem like the plague from about the last week of September until the first week of November. Anytime I’ve tried to go in during October, I spend an hour looking for parking before giving up and going home. And while I’m not here to giving you parking tips (there really aren’t any, there are no secret spots, but there are eight thousand lots), this three-week series will feature three of my favorite things:
places, food, and drink
This week, we’re chatting about all of my favorite places to visit in Salem! Most of the general touristy shops are not listed because I don’t really frequent them, but that’s not to say they aren’t wonderful! These are just the shops that, on any given Saturday, I can most likely be found in.
Okay, not gonna lie, I think 100% of these are on Essex St. Wait, lies! I have one that’s on Derby. The main thoroughfare for tourism is Essex St, though, which is a wide cobblestone street where cars aren’t allowed. I normally park along Essex St because it’s typically where I’ll end up, or down by the Wharf since it’s not that far, and there are a ton of great stops there. I’m going to start around the Bewitched statue and carry on rather than in alphabetical order so that if you try any of these, it’ll be like a little breadcrumb trail.
Harrison’s Comics & Pop Culture
I once got so excited over the Dark Crystal display in Harrison’s that it wasn’t until I was across the street about to order lunch that I realized I’d left my phone on the floor in front of the display. When I scurried back in to get it, the cashier laughed because apparently that happens all the time.
Harrison’s is my favorite comic book store on the North Shore. It is definitely a little overwhelming, but just give yourself a good bracing before you walk in. It’s covered, wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor, with merch, and it’s awesome. When you first walk in, there are more Funko’s than I’ve ever seen in my life, all of them spaced out in their appropriate fandoms. Looking for that obscure Christmas Deadpool that costs an arm and a leg on Ebay? They’ve probably got it, and for regular price. And it’s not just Marvel–ATLA, Sailor Moon, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, AVP–the list goes on and on. If you’ve ever been in love with it, it’s probably here.
And that’s only the front half! In the back, all of the comics are displayed, from mainstream graphic novels to really out there Dark Horse releases. The staff is super helpful, though they may be wearing costumes throughout October, and they may startle you because they’re wearing a mask while you’re
too loudly complaining about the lack of a Samwise Gamgee Funko.
Tibert Arts & Healing
This lovely Tibet store is near and dear to my heart. I’ve taken countless people in with me, but my favorite was my yoga boss. She was frozen in front of the massive singing bowl they have in there, just stunned by its beauty, until the owner came over and asked her if she’d like to try it out. There are footprints carved into the metal, so she took off her shoes, climbed into about an inch of water, and promptly had an out-of-body experience when the owner struck the singing bowl with a mallet and the inch of water started to sprinkle upward all around her. Apparently, you can feel the vibration from the soles of your feet all the way up to your ears, and she was kind of wobbly after, but in a good way!
The owners are absolutely amazing, and I appreciate their hard work and dedication so much. It’s so difficult to celebrate Tibetan culture in the actual country, and it’s wonderful that we’re able to support the culture and help keep it alive.
The shop is full of mala necklaces & bracelets, every different statue from Buddhism & Hinduism lore that you can think of, shelves of singing bowls, and gorgeous ancient relics on display.
Wicked Good Books
What’s a good trip without a local bookstore! Wicked is small, but full of fun goodies, down to a local spooky section, an entire wall of fantasy, and the cutest kid’s corner ever. If you’ve got any questions about Salem’s history, they’re sure to have every book on the topic that you need to satisfy that curiosity. They have bits and bobs of merch, several new releases, and a poetry section to make you sigh.
First thing’s first, and I have to say this or I’ll never forgive myself: Coven’s Cottage is one of my favorite places in the world. No matter what, if I’m in Salem, I’m stopping here. I have a routine almost every Saturday of Life Alive, Coven’s, Jolie, and home. Sometimes, I don’t even have things to buy, I just want to walk around sixteen times because it feels like relief and like coming home and like belonging in there.
Possibly one of my favorite things about Coven’s is their no phone policy. This makes so much sense! There are superstitions across the ages and cultures about souls being captured through mirrors or cameras, ghosts being hunted with electronic devices, and all manner of nastiness when you combine technology and magic. So please, follow this policy. Treat the world of magic with respect, and keep your damn phone in your pocket. Just experience the incredible journey that is stepping into this shop.
We’ve all thought of it before–what does a witch’s house look like inside? Are there herbs hanging from every inch of the ceiling? Are there crystals scattered across every surface? Do they have bottled tinctures and tonics and salves in their cabinet? Are there books on white and green magic respectively? Are there candles flickering and pentagrams tucked away and a Green Man auspiciously hung just out of sight?
YES. This doesn’t even do Coven’s justice. It’s all that and more. It is a space that invites you in and whispers at your back, welcome home.
I’m not going to go too in detail to what exactly it looks like in there because I want you to experience it firsthand, but just know, it doesn’t matter if you’re a witch, if you’re just into magic, or if you’re skeptical about the whole thing–there’s something for everyone. That, and the owners are absolutely delightful, and I am so grateful for the witchy goodies they showcase!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. But Mary, we can get to a Village Silversmith just by going to the mall. You can also drive up to Rockport if you’re really feeling that way, but the Village in Salem is the best one by far. Not only is its crystal collection massive, the staff is really great at just leaving you alone and letting you browse. They only really pop in to offer to take things behind the counter or give you a tray, which happens to me every time because I cannot control myself around crystals. Make sure you look thoroughly through each aisle, too, because there are really way more crystals than I can possibly make you believe, it’s insane.
Do you love Harry Potter? SAME. There’s not a lot to say about Wynott’s other than it’s a Harry Potter dream come true. Though they’re not actually associated with HP, they do sell a few wands from the movies, but the real magic in Wynott’s is that it’s completely filled with locally made wands from every different type of wood you can imagine. All of them are unique, too, so make sure to pick up a few and try them out before you make a decision. The owner will regale you with history on any wand you pick up, too, in the most delightfully storyteller voice.
Crow Haven Corner
Crow Haven Corner is like if you stuck Coven’s in Rockport and gave it that seaside feel. It’s a little more mainstream, which means you’ve got things like witching balls strung overhead, tarot readings in the back, and lots of pendant jewelry. There are still herbs to be found, and I even managed to snag a few there that I wasn’t seeing anywhere else. There’s a huge selection of tumbled stones, tons of candles for different spells (and hexes), and delightful staff.
My favorite memory there is wandering in with a good friend of mine. Whenever she comes down, we go to Salem every day she’s there, and we were in the midst of discussing something when we stepped up into Crow Haven. We kept chattering as we were looking until we stopped at the books, and then we were pointing out different ones that sounded interesting. One of the shopkeepers came over to say that she’d intended on asking us if we needed any help, but that we sounded like we knew just what we were doing, so she was going to leave us be.
I may have wanted to brush off my shoulders a little. Witch? Me? Noooo, how could you tell?
Someday, I swear I’m going to get a witching ball from there. Just go in and tell myself to stare at the ceiling until I spot one that calls to me.
I’ve only recently been popping into Artemisia, but it’s such a delight! Their loose leaf tea wall alone is something to admire. Of course, you can’t actually get any brewed right then, but don’t worry, we’re talking about drinks later! This wall is incredible, though. It stretches all the way down and around on the main level, and it’s just full of every combination you could ever imagine. They’ve also got a truly massive selection of essential oils, both for humans and for pets!
What tempts me the most is usually the bottom level, where all of their soaps, books, brooms, and incense resides. Also, another shop that just leaves you to wander around at your own pace!
Admittedly, I spend very little time on the Wharf actually shopping. I spend most of it at Jaho or down at the lighthouse, but we’ll chat about those later in the series. For now, I just have a few shops that capture my attention.
Pyramid is a Smörgåsbord of different things. Looking for tarot? They’ve got a wall of it, and they’ll let you look through them, which no one else has ever allowed, and it makes me so damn happy. Looking for crystals? They’ve got an entire table of tumbled, the expensive raw behind glass, and then another table of smaller raw. Looking for candles or metal pentagrams or other witchy items? Don’t miss the back right corner! I always forget it’s there, but it is overflowing with interesting items. Looking for books on faeries? Crystals? Angels? Plants? David Bowie? They have it all! Their book section is one of the best New Age selections I’ve ever seen. And it’s not even just books about magic–there are fancier tarot decks, Buddhist texts, and a small section on yoga. Looking for a reading? They’ve got that, too!
I’m telling you, Pyramid has everything you’re after and more, and it’s one of those Mary Poppins shops that seems to just go on forever, so make sure you’re ready to settle in and wander around for a bit.
Die With Your Boots On
I just made my first ever purchase at DWYBO, and I plan on going back very soon for a cape and a striped umbrella I left without. It’s a magical little place, and the staff is so amazing. They were so excited that we were trying on stuff that they were waiting to see what we looked like when we came out and were there to offer encouragement and glee. It was so adorable, and I’m a forever fan now. They’ve got every Gothic thing imaginable–lace dresses, capes with deep wizard hoods, pants that flare, bat-wing collars, enamel pins, A LETTERMAN THAT HAS 666 ON THE FRONT POCKET AND SEE YOU IN HELL ON THE BACK THAT I NEED IN MY SIZE UGHHHHH, pointy boots, stripes upon stripes upon stripes, bat patterns, glittery pumpkins, and lots of leather.
It’s super chill in there, too. The music isn’t obnoxiously loud like most clothing stores, the dressing rooms are so freaking cool with the whispery black and white fabric everywhere, and the selection is actually really reasonably priced. I was nervous because it’s a boutique store, but all of the prices were ones that made sense to me, and I only didn’t get the cape because I had several other black items in my arms and could not afford more. But soon.
Circle of Stitches
Okay, first, I don’t sew, so I know it’s weird that I’m putting Circle of Stitches here, but there’s something for people like me and your sewing buddies, too! My friend swears by their yarn, and I swear by their tarot. They do truly have a magnificent selection of yarn, so if that’s what you’re looking for, definitely hop on over. But also, all of their tarot is either locally done or the kind that you’re not going to find anywhere else. (Except Kim Krans, she’s in every store ever.) I’ve gotten quite a few decks here that I just adore, and all of the decks are open so you can page through them.
And that’s Salem’s places! Obviously, there are a ton of actual tourists sites that I could list for you (the Hawthorne statue, House of Seven Gables, the PEM, the Witch Museum, and on and on forever), but you can get those anywhere. There are also a bunch of fun little parlor magic type places along Essex St, too, that I definitely recommend, but all of the above are my little homes away from home. I hope this list helps you in your journey to Salem this year for Halloween!
And stay tuned for next week! We’ll be chatting about all my favorite drink spots. (Fair warning: none of them are alcoholic.)