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Nest

Spend a few minutes in Nest, and one thing becomes instantly clear: The buyers are geniuses. This French-themed store is small, a shoe box compared to a big-box retailer, yet it sells nearly everything -- from clothing, bedding, and tableware to books, chandeliers, furniture, knickknacks, and wall art. Almost all of it is something you want, from the Kerry Castle quilts to the vintage cards, and the stock changes rapidly. Nest, which leans toward an antique French look, attracts browsers like no other; they elbow their way gingerly through the narrow aisles, as the merchandise seems to be perched just so. Naturally, men on gift-buying missions for wives or girlfriends look a little befuddled in a store like this, so here's a tip: Just reach out and grab something. It'll be perfect.

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