Today’s news:

Shop early, shop local

Leaving the borough to shop for the holidays has never made less sense.

That’s because on the first two Thursdays of December, over 120 Park Slope stores will be offering special discounts, activities and refreshments as part of Buy in Brooklyn’s second annual Snowflake Celebration, a promotional, “shop local-shop late” event.

And with a grim economic forecast, staying in the neighborhood to shop has never been more critical, those participating in the event said.

“Shop locally–so all the merchants you know and loved in 2008 are there in 2009,” urged event participant Irene Lo Re, owner of Aunt Suzie’s Restaurant on Fifth Avenue.

The Snowflake Celebration is part of the Park Slope Civic Council’s Buy in Brooklyn campaign, an initiative whose mission is to enable local businesses to prosper. The civic council and the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the festivities.

Like last year, the event will feature carolers, eggnog, and artificial snow, provided the real stuff doesn’t materialize.

“The Snowflake Celebration is more important this year than ever,” said John Ciferni, owner of Tarzian True Value Hardware and president of the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce. “In these hard economic times, supporting our local businesses is one of the most important things we can do to keep our local economy and community strong,” he said.

From the Sustainable Business Network NYC, and Local Labels, to the Brooklyn Green Team and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, the breadth of this year’s participants speaks to the range – and the imperative – of a thriving local economy, said Rebeccah Welch, a spokesperson for the Buy in Brooklyn campaign.

“We are excited to be partnering with a number of nonprofit and local groups this year to broaden the educational mission of Buy in Brooklyn,” she said.

Park Slope’s fiscal foresight may have started a trend. Last week, Borough president Marty Markowitz kicked off Shop in Brooklyn, a borough-wide initiative intent on luring and retaining shoppers. “Brooklyn bonuses” will be offered at participating merchants every weekend through Dec. 21. For more information, go to www.ishopbrooklyn.com.

“We see this borough-wide initiative not only as a measure of our early success, but as a sign that a broader understanding has taken hold,” noted Welch. “One where people see how the health of small businesses has a direct impact on the health of local communities.”

Besides, she added, “We always had the idea this could go more global.”

The Snowflake Celebration will take place Dec. 11, from 7 p.m. until close at participating merchants. For more information, go to www.buyinbrooklyn.com.

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