By Tom Dalton
SALEM — Laurie Cabot, the official witch of Salem, is closing her store.
Cabot, 78, opened the city's first witch shop more than 40 years ago and currently runs The Official Witch Shoppe on Pickering Wharf.
She announced the Jan. 31 closing on her website.
"Closing my store was a very difficult decision, but one that I am pleased with," she wrote. "It has been a dream come true to have had the experience of operating my stores and the countless wonderful people I have met."
Cabot declined to be interviewed for this article.
Around 1970, Cabot opened The Witch Shoppe at 100 Derby St. and later started Crow Haven Corner on Essex Street, which is the city's longest-operating witch shop. When she made the move to Pickering Wharf, she changed the store's name to The Cat, The Crow and The Crown and later to The Official Witch Shoppe.
Today, there are more than a dozen witch shops in the city.
"Without a doubt, she opened the doors ... to be able to talk about witchcraft and to be able to practice witchcraft in public," said Lorelei, the current owner of Crow Haven Corner. "She opened the doors, in many ways, for (witchcraft) tourism in Salem."
In the mid-1970s, Gov. Michael Dukakis proclaimed Cabot the official witch of Salem.
As the Pickering Wharf store closes, Cabot said she will focus her attention on "the first-ever temple of witchcraft in Salem, the Cabot Kent Hermetic Temple." She said she is trying to obtain a temple building.