, Salem, MA


April 2, 2014

Our view: Local businesses thrive, even as institutions pass from the scene


McRae did a lot of work with riding boots. “I used to take them in and let them out and resole them, all different things,” he said. “I had a lot of customers even from as far away as Vermont and Maine and New Hampshire, because there were not too many repair shops that would work on riding boots at that time.”

These days, McRae said, shoes are throwaway items.

“It’s a dying business, I think,” he said.

Three local institutions, passing on with the blink of an eye. It would be easy to say large chains are sweeping aside small family operations, that our way of life is changing. In a sense, that’s true. But it is also true that community businesses can survive and even thrive in this era, thanks to hard work on the part of their owners and a strong connection with local customers. There is abundant evidence of this fact here on the North Shore.

While Derby Street may be sold, for example, it will remain a bookstore under new ownership. (And it did outlast at least one major chain, Borders Books.)

Though the Cabot Street Theatre is closing, independently owned movie houses continue to grow and thrive. Marblehead’s Warwick reopened last year as part of a grand re-imagining of the historic site. CinemaSalem has become a city institution, showing first-run movies and events ranging from President Obama’s inauguration to the final episode of “Lost.” It is also one of the driving forces behind the spectacular Salem Film Fest, which brings top documentary filmmakers to the North Shore every year.

CinemaSalem’s customers showed their dedication to the place in 2012, raising more than $60,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to help the business buy state-of-the-art digital screening equipment.

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