Salem Ma. has been world-renowned for its spooky October month-long tourist-facing celebration of Halloween promoted in/and by its downtown business district. But in recent years, it has shown a softer side in February with a Valentine’s Day-themed chocolate & ice sculpture festival for lovers and families to enjoy. It is called Salem’s So Sweet and this year it runs on Feb 7th-9th!

Kick-off is with a chocolate & wine tasting event (always quickly sold out), where the business community — premier Salem restaurants, stores, and sweet shops — come together to put on display for sampling pretty much anything they sell that has chocolate in it. If the business sells wine, expect bottles to be poured as well.

What makes this festival a master stroke of marketing is that it is a joint project by Salem Main Streets, the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and Destination Salem, along with local retailers, restaurants, and businesses. It capitalizes on Valentine’s Day by giving tourists and locals a common reason to engage with multiple local businesses.

This is marketed through a “Golden Ticket” promotion as many downtown businesses will offer chocolate samplings and sweet discounts around downtown Salem all weekend in celebration of Valentine’s Day.  Any customers making “a full-price purchase at one participating downtown business” will get 10% off their purchase at the NEXT participating business! (note, offer good Feb. 8th and 9th only, some restrictions may apply, etc., etc.)

The Golden Tickets will be available in brochures at all participating businesses during the weekend of the Salem’s So Sweet Festival.

To further the customer experience, the ”ice sculpture” part of the festival also takes place over the weekend. Over 20+ beautiful ice sculptures representing businesses and organizations suddenly appear on sidewalks throughout Salem. This provides another reason for people to walk around town and take advantage of the Golden Ticket promotion.

Or, they can take the Salem Trolley. Rides around the festival route— weather permitting on Feb. 8th & 9th from noon to 4 pm— will be reduced to $2 for an adult and free for children.

Don’t you just love it? Competition is replaced by cooperation as stores & shops work together to engage with holiday shoppers during the Salem’s So Sweet Festival. Would this work in your business community?

For more info go to Salem Main Streets website. It lists where the ice sculptures will be located and which businesses will be participating in the Golden Ticket promotion. You can also go to the Salem’s So Sweet Facebook page for updates on offerings at many of the stores and shops.

(Photo from the Salem So Sweet Facebook page)