Fans of Vera Bradley rejoice: The Store in Lake Highlands, in Northlake Shopping Center at Northwest Highway and Ferndale, is hosting a day-long Vera Bradley party on Thursday, Jan. 13 from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. The event includes giveaways and prize drawings to showcase the spring collection’s four new colors: boysenberry, blue lagoon, folkloric and lemon parfait. The Store owner Cheryl Calvin says the Vera Bradley company will not allow vendors to discuss the collection until 10 days before it launches so that customers will be surprised. Calvin says Vera Bradley was created by two women who realized in an airport that few cute travel bags exist, so decided to make their own, and created the almost 30-year-old company. 214.553.8850,

Papa Murphy’s is now open in the recently built shopping center on Plano near Northwest Highway. The “take ‘n’ bake” pizza concept creates handmade pies to order with dozens of topping options (all fresh; the restaurant doesn’t own a freezer). Heads up: Don’t expect to eat a pizza or have it baked onsite; when they sake “take ‘n’ bake”, they mean it. 214.341.7272,

Eat The World at Abrams and Royal recently launched an updated website. To celebrate, it is offering $5 sandwiches all day for the entire month of January. 214.340.3663,

Nearby in the same shopping center, Artistik Edge Hair Studio will raffle off an iPad on Jan. 15. Proceeds from the tickets, $2 a piece, will benefit the education of young drivers. 214.349.3888,

White Rock Coffee on Northwest Highway near Ferndale is launching an artist of the month series beginning Jan. 2 with Davis Blake, a Dallas resident and stay-at-home dad, who began recording his first album in December. The series will showcase a new artist Friday and Saturday nights, and wrap up with Blake on Sundays. Music booker Ronnie Fauss, a musician who recently put out his own record, “Mulligan”, schedules local talent for the coffee shop. “I play pretty regularly in Dallas, so people know me,” Fauss says. Anyone interested in playing at the shop should email Fauss at 214.341.4774,

For lovers of all things cute and monogrammed, T. Hee Greetings and Gifts in Lake Highlands Plaza, Audelia and Walnut Hill, has a new website, Co-owner David Farris says customers couldn’t find the store website because they had a difficult time spelling “T-Hee” correctly, so the store changed to an easier URL. The company still runs its other website (, but the new site offers incentives for visitors, called “cluck bucks”, or online-only store credit for shopping on the website, referring a friend, or blogging about the company. The store is also holding an “off to market” sale January 1-7, where everything in the shop is 20-75 percent off. 214.747.5800.

Aldi is planning to open another location in our neighborhood at 9779 Forest. Don’t be fooled by the website’s list of open locations; the grocery store won’t open until September 2011. The date might not be right around the corner, but shoppers looking for instant grocery savings can check out Aldi’s current location on Abrams and Northwest Highway.

Just outside our neighborhood on Garland Road, a few new businesses are turning the heads of neighbors who live within a short driving distance:

Savvy Consignments (9034 Garland) is a new store near Cheesecake Royale. “I have a little something for everybody,” owner Rhonda Arnold says. The store sells predominately furniture, household items, jewelry and a few local handmade goods (such as hairclips from a woman who finds peacock fathers around White Rock Lake). 214.660.8700.

A few doors down, Justin Bowden Fitness (9010 Garland) recently celebrated one year of business as a personal training facility. Jody DeFalco, an Old Lake Highlands resident, emailed to tell us she recently stumbled across it while looking for a gym, and heartily endorses it. “I feel like I get more of a workout in one hour than I do by going to one of the big gyms for a month,” DeFalco says of Justin Bowden Fitness. “The trainers are knowledgeable, personable and very motivating, and the staff knows everyone by their name.” She also appreciates that owner and namesake Justin Bowden does not “hard sell” his potential clients, and instead offers a free training session “so you know whether you will find value in it or not.” 214.321.9300,

Across the street in the Reserve at White Rock, Susan Linder has opened the Debutantes and Cowboys Boutique (9219 Garland), carrying designer clothes and accessories for women and children, from infants and toddlers to tweens. 972.800.9314,