You can leave the hand sanitizer at home on Saturday, Dec. 4: LEGO is unveiling a new Imagination Center at Mall of America. Yes, that means brand new bins of LEGOs for kids to build. The store, still on the first floor, south side, will feature seven brand new LEGO models including the world’s largest LEGO model, a 34 foot tall robot and the largest pick-a-brick wall with 180 bins. Tune in to Shop Girls at 12:30 p.m. CST Saturday to hear a LEGO brand manager talk about the making of this new store. And one more fun fact for you (I feel like such a LEGOs nerd, but who doesn’t like LEGOS?): the word LEGO is a contraction of two Danish words, leg and godt, which means Play Well.

Corset Boutique in Hopkins, which has established itself as a resource for styling services, extended sizes and wearable looks for real women, is up for sale. Owner Carrie Leum plans to stay in the image business, but she’s ready to step away from the day to day of retailing. Rather than close up shop, the enterprising Leum, principal of her own Leum PR Group, is searching for someone to take over the business.  Meanwhile, a sale is on now: 50 to 75 percent off storewide.

Tireless retailer Nancy Sherman is calling it quits. Shorty’s Loft will close after the holidays. Sherman is moving on – really moving, to Texas, for a new opportunity. I wish her the absolute best. Sherman had high hopes for Shorty’s in St. Louis Park – fronting Excelsior Boulevard, next door to Trader Joe’s seemed a no-brainer, but the reality was less ideal. Excelsior & Grand is still struggling to find its groove, and its pedestrian traffic. Even so, Sherman stayed true to her jeans-and-leather jackets style and never stopped hosting events or dreaming up shopping incentives. I hope when Sherman returns for a visit, she’ll find her old stomping ground evolving into the destination she envisioned.

The Shorty’s Loft closing sale starts today with 20 percent off storewide. Expect additional weekly reductions throughout the month.

Push that project off until tomorrow – Cyber Monday is more than a gimmick. The occasion invented a few years ago to extend the Black Friday shopping rush even when consumers went back to work after the holiday weekend is proving its muscle this year. Visit for an overview of deals everywhere from Toys ‘R Us to Lands End. And, simply go to your inbox. If you’ve ever given a retailer your info – purposely or inadvertently – you’re likely to have some offers waiting for you today and many will be legit. Free shipping continues to be the default offer, but some get much better: 20% off from American Eagle, 35% off from Kitsel, $10 off $25 from Origins, $50 off gifts from one of my favorite modern design sites, Chiasso – plus free shipping from all. Happy cyber shopping!

I’ve often rationalized, it’s probably for the best that I haven’t won a new home or a free cruise, because as wonderful as it would be gifted something huge and unexpected, I’m not inclined to jumping up and down or to public displays of crying. Neither is Angela Reeves of Minnetonka, but she tells me she surprised herself by “shedding a few tears” when she found out she was in the audience of the final  “Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things” show (well, the first of two final shows, anyway.) Reeves and her husband Fred weren’t the only Minnesotans there – Faith’s Lodge founder Susan Lacek was in the lucky audience as well – my pal Jason DeRusha had the scoop: click here.

Angela called in to Shop Girls on Saturday to tell us about her surreal experience on the show. (Listen here). After writing Oprah about her husband, Fred Reeves, founder of Street Therapy Interactive to help troubled teens, the two were invited to the show – with just a week’s notice. “I just wanted to see Oprah. It’s her last year,” Angela said. Okay, there was this little idea in the back of her head – given the time of year, and the bits of confetti she saw fall on a chair on stage before the show, but then a producer said the show wouldn’t air until next summer, and anyway, who would dare think it..until…it happened! “People were hugging and high fiving and a couple of people did fall on the floor,” Angela said. My husband didn’t understand the concept of what we were going to receive.” And receive they have – the 53-inch flat screen TV arrived over the weekend. Some smaller items, like books and cookware, guests lined up for and took with them after the show. For bigger ticket items, or ones that required sizing, coupons were given out that could be redeemed online. Oh, and Oprah did pay the taxes on everyone’s gifts. “She was so funny, so down to earth,” Angela said. “It was amazing.”

I got out of doing the “talking to crazy shoppers who line up outside stores at 3 a.m. on Black Friday” story this year. Been there, done that. And frankly, with stores opening as early as 10 p.m. – or even remaining open all day on Thanksgiving – it’s become commonplace. (Get Black Friday shopping tips here.) What I’ll be watching instead is how technology plays into shopping strategy. Will shoppers be tweeting their best finds? Will they look up Facebook coupons from stores or log into Foursquare for discounts or send angry messages to retailers that run out of advertised doorbusters? Will they make use of the myriad shopping apps coming out just in time for the Superbowl of shopping? Best Buy, for example, is hyping two mobile apps for the holidays:

Shopkick: This free smartphone app detects “shopkick Signal” technology at select Best Buy stores (Target and other retailers participate, too). The customer instantly receives rewards called “kickbucks,” which can be accrued over time, then redeemed in the store or converted into store gift certificates. Customers can also provide the mobile number connected to their account at the cash register for personalized discounts.

Tecca: Curates product information, pricing and expert reviews to help consumers understand new technology, compare products, functions and prices. Simply scan a barcode and the app recognizes the product. Available for iPhone and Android as well as Web browsers.

Just two examples of how retailers are trying to incorporate social technology into the shopping experience. Will you use it?

Want the opposite of waiting in line in the dead of night for 30 percent off a coffee maker at a big box store? Smart & Chic Beauty Lounge opens Black Friday in Northeast Minneapolis, 20 University Ave. N.E. (across from Surdyk’s). Smart & Chic will offer all the finishing touches: hair styling, blowouts, extensions, makeup application and lessons, eyelash extensions and manicures. Perfect for bachelorette parties, or a night on the town with friends. (Book appointments online.) The Smart & Chic (literally) boutique will feature hip lines like Malin + Goetz, Jouer CosmeticsTokyo Milk and Np2 Nail Polish. Plus, hair pieces and accessories by local designer Bethany Lorelle, Nelle Handbags and others.

Founder Julie Swenson is building on what she started closer to the river, in the Cooper neighborhood. She and her team have been a go-to for weddings and special events for years, but the new space is sure to make them a destination and make us prettier. Now that’s smart!

Eileen Fisher opens its first stand-alone store in the Twin Cities today at the Galleria in Edina. And if you haven’t shopped the better women’s brand in a while, you might be surprised: Long associated with flowing styles and easy fits, the holiday collection includes fitted styles, luxe scarves and the must have of the season: sequins.

I hear shoppers are having trouble getting their hands on Denkosekka, one of the hot new toys mentioned in the St. Paul Pioneer Press article I wrote last week. assures me Toys ‘R Us stores will have the magnetic yo-yo “battle” game in stock in early December, but it’s so new that many locations have yet to receive their shipment. Hang tight, or order online now at

And while we’re on the subject of toys, the toy coupons that Target sent out several weeks ago expire Nov. 24, so don’t wait until Black Friday! Target launches a four-day sale on Sunday (Nov. 21) featuring many toys, games and videos that will not be on sale Black Friday.

But not that Denkosekka.

Bachman’s Holiday Ideas House opens today. The historic family home at 5936 Lyndale Ave. S. in Minneapolis, adjacent to the Bachman’s store, is made over seasonally to inspire decorating ideas. Themes for holiday decorating and entertaining:

  • Give the porch a soothing and relaxing look for winter with birch and simple, natural elements.
  • This is the time of year to go formal in the dining room: traditional dinner setting, vintage silver serving pieces and for a festive touch, poinsettia dinnerware.
  • Get the house dressed up for New Year’s Eve with silver touches and blue-green accents
  • Re-purpose a sun room as a cocktail and bar area
  • Pull out the peppermint and holly dinnerware for cookie-making
  • Fancy yourself Candy Spelling by turning a spare room into a neat and pretty gift wrapping space…at least for the season.

Bachman’s Ideas House is open today through Sunday, Dec. 12 (closed Mondays). Tickets are $5 with 20 percent of proceeds benefiting Children’s Home Society and Family Services. Visitors will receive a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase at Bachman’s. Order tickets online, call 612-861-7311 or buy at the store.