The owners of Lillian’s have been hounding me for some time. They wanted me to come check out their occasional store (meaning, open just one weekend per month) in Hastings. Then Chaska. Then Forrest Lake. Basically, name your third ring suburb, and there was Lillian’s selling designer inspired handbags and knock-off accessories. Honestly, I didn’t pay too much attention. But now, it’s hard not to notice: Lillian’s is moving in to the city – to South Minneapolis at 50th and Xerxes and in the former Karma space at 841 Grand Avenue in St. Paul (both opening Aug. 7 to 10). It’s hard to believe they can sell enough purses in four days to justify the monthly rent in either of those desirable retail districts, but the two women who started the company in 2005 are quite confident in our endless thirst for inexpensive bags. Stay tuned!

I should be organizing my closet. Instead, I sit here at my desk in my new home, while the contents of my wardrobe remain strewn across my bed, dresser and – it’s true – in garbage bags on the floor. Good thing Sara Rogers isn’t coming over. Just last week, the Mall of America fashion expert and image consultant was on "Shop Girls" talking about how she arranges her closet by outfit. Rather than pants on one rack and tops on another, she groups five shirts with the bottoms that match. I am in awe. And I’ll think about that as I cram my pants on one rack and tops on another.

Il Vostro Boutique of 50th and France is in the news this week for owner Stacey Finnegan’s surprising  decision to open a second shop in downtown St. Paul, which is not exactly known for its lively fashion scene. The move could pay for itself in marketing – she’s getting calls from every news outlet in town because, unfortunately, a contemporary women’s boutique opening in St. Paul is a rather unusual turn of events. The timing is no accident – Il Vostro will open before the Republican National Convention. Anxious to make St. Paul look lively, the city gave her a discount on rent and a short-term lease. So what happens after the convention? That depends on whether St. Paul workers and residents are really ready to shop. I can do only so much alone.

Hasn’t been the best summer for outlet shopping, gas prices being what they are – which is why you might not know that Albertville Premium Outlets has picked up some new stores, including Columbia Sportswear, Converse and Guess Kids. Maybe not worth a special trip, but nice additions, should you happen to need a shopping fix on the way to the cabin.

Got a great bargain hunting tip from Mary who works at the Savers at 2124 E. Lake St. She says every Monday, you’ll find a ton of kids clothes priced at 99 cents, including many items never worn, with original tags still in tact. "Our area is not shopped for kids clothes as the neighborhood is older," she says. "Mondays get busy because a lot of consignment store owners are shopping but there is more than enough for everyone!" Great to know. And in case you’re thinking shopping Savers is beneath you, get this: Mary used to work for Nordstrom and says she’ll be happy to walk around the counter to hand you your purchase – even if it did cost just 99 cents.

I remember playing in the toy aisles at Dayton’s many, many, ok, many, years ago – back when department stores really had all sorts of different…departments. Well, long after surrendering to Toys ‘r Us and Target, Macy’s is bringing back the toys through an exclusive partnership with FAO Schwarz. Thursday, July 10 marks the opening of a 2,000 square foot FAO Schwarz department on the 4th floor of the Minneapolis store. Macy’s says it will be filled with FAO’s private label collection along with specialty toys, stuffed animals and other “high-quality products.” By fall, FAO Schwarz toys will be available at the Burnsville, Mall of America, Maplewood, Rosedale, Ridgedale and Southdale Macy’s stores. I’m reserving judgement until I see the selection and prices.

Just a couple of weeks after reporting that Anthropologie has added a personal shopping service at its 50th and France store, Edina-based Hot Mama has created a similar program at all of its Twin Cities locations (Edina, St. Paul, Wayzata, Maple Grove). The store that tries to make shopping do-able with kids – offering toys and snacks – is now taking simplicity to the next level, allowing customers to call ahead with their wants and needs and show up to find options waiting in a fitting room. And same as department stores, there’s no charge for the service and no obligation to buy. Just another sign that boutiques are recognizing they need to distinguish their service to be successful. Wonder which one will be next to jump on the bandwagon.

You can’t walk up Michigan Avenue in Chicago without seeing little girls all dolled up and toting their American Girl shopping bags. I’m not a collector, but still, I’ve visited the store – more like a museum – just to witness the phenomenon. In case you missed it in the Pioneer Press, that same shopping experience is coming to the Mall of America in November. It’s a perfect fit for the mall, and puts the Twin Cities in great company, since American Girl is extremely selective, with locations only in New York, L.A., Dallas, Atlanta and Boston. And with gas prices what they are, the timing couldn’t be better. What with all the money you’ll save by not having to drive to Chicago, you’ll be able to buy that doll a dress and throw her a tea party!

If you’re getting bored with the same ol’ Coach assortment, try the Galleria location, which was just upgraded to a “fashion store.” That means they’ll be carrying higher priced and more exclusive bags, jewelry and watches. You won’t find that merchandise at other Coach stores in the Twin Cities.