Visit any cool city in the world and you will see a ton of things going on on Sunday. There are seven days of the week and not one is wasted. Sunday is a day to meet friends and go out to eat, to attend free concerts and paid concerts and concerts of religious music. You can ride somewhere on a city bus; you can stroll and talk; you can grab a drink. You can live your town’s life without missing a beat.
It’s not just New York and Paris, either; it’s towns wherever community is strong and business is vital. It’s a sign of health and spirit. You don’t have to be a “Big City” to have a food fair or art festival, a rodeo or a museum exhibit or a dance-athon. But you need a community environment of stores, services and vitality among which these things can function.
When we at Salem Weekly take a look around our own downtown streets on Sundays, we can easily imagine the proverbial lone tumbleweeds rolling through this ghost town. If you’ve been here long enough, you’ve probably heard sayings like “there’s a law in Salem that you can’t run your business after 5 pm” or “the city rolls up the sidewalks on Sundays.”
Well, we actually looked into it. There aren’t such laws on the books.
In a way it would have been nice, because it would have explained a lot.
Especially in this issue of Salem Weekly where we talk about the importance of local businesses and local spending, it fries our bacon that Salem’s beautiful downtown streets are silent and empty of bus service while all the big box stores that drive regional money to other parts of the country do a thriving Sunday business.
Historically, the American idea was that it was sinful to enjoy the Seventh Day anywhere but in a hard church pew all morning and then home in the parlor all afternoon reviewing lessons of the Good Book.
Clearly, that is not the case anymore. Studies show less than half of the nation goes to church regularly. In fact, Portland is one of the nation’s top three “least churched cities” (Barna Group Study titled, Markets 2011 and States 2011).
Salem of course isn’t Portland, but we share many of the same ideas.
So what’s the answer? First, Salem needs Sunday bus service. (Second: Salem needs Sunday bus service!) And after that – we need to let businesses know how much we’d love to visit them on Sundays. We need to visit those that are open Sundays and thank them. Tell them we support their choice of hours.
And when someone you know suggests going to the mall or a chain restaurant on Sunday, get their butts downtown to whatever might be happening there. When a group you’re in discusses holding an event, try to get it positioned on a Sunday, and wake up a local business or two to be open for you. When community officials discuss any civic-related issue or any Sunday question, be there and support a vital Salem Sunday culture.
Other cities are open all week. It’s 2012 (for those not keeping up) and it’s time for Salem to join the 21st Century.
There are 105 Sundays in 2012. Half of them are already gone. Don’t miss out, Salem.
Salem Wake up for Sundays.