Best Of 2001

Best Department Store: Nordstrom

While other department stores are a virtual cacophony of screaming color and piped-in Muzak, Nordstrom is a quiet oasis of good taste. Its three floors croon, "Rest . . . relax . . . browse" while offering amenities like the Nordstrom Café (perfect for sipping lemonade and sampling a pear-and-gorgonzola salad), an espresso bar, and lounges with comfortable couches. There's even a pianist providing a live soundtrack for your shopping experience. Nordstrom doesn't have to shout to get you to spend. In its understated way, it compels you to buy more than you would anywhere else.