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New Directions 

After almost four decades in the same location, Ad Lib Gifts (3262 Severn Ave., Lakeside Vieux Carre, Metairie, 835-8755) has moved across the street to a more airy showroom that's only been open since last Friday. Owner Barbara Trujillo says the store is changing directions in other ways as well, with new lines of furniture, lamps, pillows, jewelry, handbags and more.

"It's not bigger" in square feet than the spot Ad Lib has occupied in Lakeside Shopping Center since Trujillo's mother, Sylvia Evensky, opened the store 37 years ago, Trujillo says, "But it's nice and open and airy."

The grand opening for the new location at Lakeside Vieux Carre shopping center at the corner of Severn Avenue and 17th Street was held on Friday and Saturday. The owner says she and her only full-time employee, May Vidacovich, moved the store partly in response to customers who said they would like the convenience of driving right up to the shop, which now has a storefront that opens onto a parking lot. Trujillo also likes the group of shops already located in the smaller shopping center, such as Rapp's, Hans Leutkemeier & Son jewelers, The Coffee Bean and others.

With the more open space came new options for displaying items, including furniture, large tapestries and other items that the shop didn't carry previously as well as merchandise for which it's become known, such as figurines and animal sculptures. Ad Lib still carries a wide variety of cards, Trujillo says, but the focus now is more on gifts for any occasion or no specific event at all.

"Gifts are what I want people to think of us as," she says. "We want to make people say, 'I don't really need that, but I've just got to have it." Among new items are one-of-a-kind -- but still affordable -- jewelry made from natural stones by Originals by Jackie, playful "Ruby Lips" dolls by Sylvestri, a host of lamps, a wealth of pillows and uncommon handbags.

"We've always carried some of the (general type of items), but we never had this amount of furniture, lamps, pillows and such," Trujillo says. "We still carry a large display of animal (figurines); they're a huge class for us." These include common pets such as cats as well as more exotic sculptures such as the artful Cows on Parade series and true-to-life replicas of wildlife including cobras, iguanas and giraffes. In addition, the shop carries lots of other gift and decorative items including picture frames, vases and more.

"We listen to our customers and try to give them the things they want," she says.

Ripley's Returns

Believe it or not, that quirky museum of wild and wonderful hard-to-fathom displays has returned to New Orleans. Ripley's Believe It or Not! New Orleans (620 Decatur St., 586-1233) opened on Jackson Square last Saturday and will play host to the curious daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., later if customer demand dictates, says Kathy Lowrey, vice president and director of marketing for Ripley's New Orleans.

Ripley's museums, of which there are several worldwide, are known for bizarre and rare exhibits, and the local version is no different. It will include 14 galleries in 10,000 square feet of space and 500 displays, "many that have never been on public display before," Lowrey says. Among the offerings are the car Lee Harvey Oswald rode in the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the skeleton of a giant mastodon that reportedly was slain by Native Americans 9,600 years before humans were thought to inhabit the area and the original Count Dracula.

Admission is $10.95 for adults and $7.95 for children 4 to 12.

Help Yourself and Others

People interested in serving their community through nonprofit board memberships can hone their skills during BoardsWork!, a leadership development workshop sponsored by the Center for Nonprofit Resources.

The 18th annual workshop is scheduled for six evenings this fall -- Sept. 17 and 24, and Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 -- at Delgado Community College's City Park Campus. It is designed for business professionals and community leaders who want to serve on nonprofit boards. After completing the workshop's coursework, participants will intern with a nonprofit board for a year.

Cost of BoardsWork! is $400, and a limited number of scholarships that will pay half the cost are available to participants who aren't sponsored by a business. For more information, contact Yvonne Pratt at (985) 640-1653 or email plplaypus@hotmail.com.

Feeding the Masses

Whole Foods Market has announced plans to build huge new natural and organic foods supermarkets in Metairie and Baton Rouge. No date has been announced for the opening in Metairie, nor has a location been made public.

Company officials say the Baton Rouge store will cover 45,770 square feet in Towne Center at Cedar Lodge, a lifestyle center housed on 48 acres of land, and should open in 2005. For the Metairie store, Whole Foods again will partner with developer Sarpy Hixon, who spearheaded the Arabella Station Whole Food Market on Magazine Street.

click to enlarge Owner Barbara Trujillo stands among some of the - new offerings available at her new and improved Ad - Lib Gifts in Metairie.
  • Owner Barbara Trujillo stands among some of the new offerings available at her new and improved Ad Lib Gifts in Metairie.
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