, Salem, MA


October 13, 2010

Salem's psychic industry sees more competition, with mixed results

SALEM — The Witch's Hide, a shop on Essex Street, was open for seven years before it began offering psychic readings in June.

To launch the new service, owner Deliela Bettencourt filled out a form, went before the Licensing Board, passed a criminal background check, paid $50 and got a fortuneteller's license for her shop.

Just four years ago, that would have been difficult, because of a strict cap on the number of psychic licenses the city allowed. That all changed three years ago.

"We removed all the caps, changed the residency requirement to one year and charged a $50 fee," said John Casey, a member of the city's Licensing Board for more than 15 years.

As a result, the number of shops in Salem with a psychic license has increased sixfold since 2006 — from four to 24. Each store has the ability to employ up to five individual psychics. At last count there were about 75 psychics licensed to work in stores in Salem. There are also 17 individual psychics licensed to work as private contractors, more than twice as many as before.

"Now, walk down the street, it's like the strip in Las Vegas. Every single store has a psychic in it," says Barbara Szafranski, the owner of Angelica of the Angels and Angels Landing in Salem, a longtime license holder. "They walk around town in weird clothing because they think they have to look weird to be a psychic.

"I predicted three or four years ago when they took the cap off, this would happen. The city has become a haven for people who want to do readings, and I don't mean good readings."

Szafranski, who was an outspoken critic of lifting the cap on psychic licenses, said her business has dropped 85 percent since the new law passed in 2007 allowing virtually unlimited competition. Before the change, a typical Saturday in October would bring 60 customers; now she says she's lucky to get 10.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

AP Video
All Aboard! LIRR Strike Averted Microsoft to Cut Up to 18,000 Jobs Time Warner Rejects Murdoch's Takeover Bid Yellen Says Economy Still Needs Fed Support Cleveland Expects Economic Boom From Lebron Justice Dept. Fines Citigroup $7 Billion Justice Dept. Fines Citigroup $7 Billion Downside of Low Mortgage Rates? Less Selling Cupcake Shop Crumbs Shuttering All Its Stores San Francisco Prepares for Soda Battle Dow Breaks Record 17,000 GM Crash Compensation Could Top $1 Billion GM Won't Limit Crash Compensation Funds Justices Rule for Broadcasters in Aereo Fight
NDN Video
Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon Spectacular lightning storm hits London Malaysian Flight Victim Was South Florida Grad Rory McIlroy on pace to break British Open records Officials Fear MH17 Site Now Tampered by Rebels Lowes employees repair Vietnam vet's wheelchair Widow of Staten Island man who died after NYPD takedown says he was unjustifiably targeted
Comments Trcker