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#NonprofitNovember is highlighting Creative Collective’s nonprofit Business Members in a series of featured interviews. These short features will grant some insight into how these nonprofits have grown and developed through the years and how they plan to use what they’ve learned to further their respective missions in 2022.
This Holiday season, follow the hashtag #NonprofitNovember to learn more about the nonprofit organizations in the communities, and discover how to support their ongoing efforts in a meaningful way.
Interviewee: Kylie Sullivan (she/her/hers)
What is your role within the organization, and what is your organization’s mission?
Salem Main Streets’ mission is the continued revitalization of downtown Salem as a vibrant, year-round, retail, dining and cultural destination through business retention, recruitment, and promotion of the downtown district. I have been the Executive Director and sole employee of the organization since 2013.
What’s something you are proud of / something you achieved this year as an organization?
We have actually had MORE businesses open than close in the downtown district since COVID started. In fact, our vacancy rate right now is possibly lower than I have ever seen – only 3% to 4%! And almost half of those vacancies already have tenants lined up. I always feel uncomfortable claiming direct responsibility for business success – ultimately, that is due to the incredibly hard work of our business community – but those numbers are really incredible for any downtown, let alone during a global pandemic, and I think that is testament to the strong work we had already been doing before the pandemic as well as all the hard work we did as a community during COVID to make sure our businesses survived.
Tell us a time that you saw your vision in action?
There are so many, I am so lucky that I get to be on the front lines of so many great community moments! But I think one of my favorites this past year was our Salem’s So Sweet initiative that we organize in partnership with the Salem Chamber of Commerce. We had to make a lot of adjustments this year, because events and festivals still were not allowed by state COVID guidelines at the time, but it was so amazing to see the businesses full of happy shoppers of all ages in the middle of February, and my absolute favorite part was getting to watch residents run into each other who had not seen each other physically in a year due to the pandemic. There was just so much joy.
What’s something you would like your followers to know about your organization that they may not already know?
I think a lot of people don’t realize that Salem Main Streets is an individual organization. We have so many close partnerships and do so much public work, people assume we are part of the City, The Chamber of Commerce, or the Creative Collective. Of the many amazing partners we have, I think one thing that makes us unique is our focus on residents. Resident engagement is at the heart of every initiative we organize, and informs the way shape all our messaging.
Who is your organization for?
Another thing that makes us unique is that our services are free to any business – we are not membership-based or pay-to-play for the overall support or promotion that we offer. Businesses are considered a constituent of SMS just by being located in or working in the downtown district. And while we focus specifically on downtown businesses, we don’t focus only on downtown residents – it is important to us that ALL Salem residents feel ownership of the downtown.
Where can people find out more about your organization and support its ongoing efforts?
Creative Collective Launches 2021 #StayLocal Campaign
Initiative encourages community to shop small and support local small businesses this November and December
The approaching Holiday season is putting people in the shopping, eating, and drinking mood as small businesses across the North Shore are gearing up for the busiest time of the year. Following up the successful 2020 #StayLocal campaign, Creative Collective is launching #StayLocal2021, encouraging individuals to shop and support small this upcoming holiday season. Learn more.