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Here are five reasons it's worth checking out.

At 10 a.m. tomorrow, Oct. 23, Milwaukee’s first Nordstrom will slide open its doors. It should be a big day for Milwaukee shoppers who have been waiting a long time for a department store like Nordstrom, which will offer a large assortment of mid-to-luxury clothes, shoes, accessories and beauty products. As I wrote in our August issue, the volume of Nordstrom’s offering hasn’t been available locally until now. The Mayfair location is the fourth store to feature the company’s Mediterranean/Italian Ruscello restaurant and it’s also one of the first of their stores to have a refreshed floor plan. What does that mean? Well, the tables and racks are aired out (I’m told the carpeting was also strategically placed so that the store can more easily move sections around depending on demand), light-colored wood tones accent the store, and shoes are no longer relegated to a single area. Men’s shoes are nestled near men’s clothing, and children’s shoes are adjacent to the pint-sized duds. It’s a common-sense change that makes you wonder why it’s not already ubiquitous.

The shoe department isn’t the only thing that makes sense about this 140,000-sq. ft. store, which now employs nearly 400 Milwaukeeans. Here are five additional reasons to check it out yourself.

An artful mannequin in the accessories department.

An artful mannequin in the accessories department.

The store features 100 pieces of Midwest art.

While no Milwaukee art is included in the selection of pieces, the wall hangings not only brighten the store (that already has more natural light than your average department store thanks to abundant windows), but also mirrors other artistic elements that are sprinkled throughout, including some of the mannequins.

The nail bar, located in the back of the beauty section. On the opposite side of the nail bar wall is the blowout bar.

The nail bar, located in the back of the beauty section. On the opposite side of the nail bar wall is the blowout bar.

It also has a nail bar and a blowout bar.

And from what I saw, the prices (think $30 for a gel manicure) are mighty reasonable. The blowout bar uses Aveda products, and combined, both bars mean the store is essentially a one-stop shop for a night out.

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The fitting rooms in the juniors section are a teenage dream.

The juniors section offers fitting rooms, pictured above, that includes a section of “group” rooms as well as cushy couches. The group rooms are separated by curtains to make the social part of shopping with friends, or parents, even easier. This is one of those uber-logical features that makes me almost wish I was still shopping in the juniors section.

The store’s Ebar makes a mean pumpkin spice latte.

While that might be the lamest sentence I’ve ever typed, I don’t mess around with seasonal hot beverages. I can safely say it was as tasty as the Colectivo and Stone Creek versions. The Ebar, a full service coffee and snack bar, is to the immediate left of the mall entrance, and is in line with the trend of coffee-cum-retail that brands across the country are trying out. 

The beauty department wisely takes a page from Sephora’s book.

Department stores traditionally offer beauty brands not available everywhere, a longstanding tradition Sephora upended when they opened their first store in the U.S. in 1998. Sephora’s layout – with shelves and shelves of product available for touching and testing – is markedly different from other department stores, whose beauty products are often kept in glass cases, which usually necessitates some sort of interaction with a salesperson. Shoppers at Sephora can grab what they need and head to the checkout. Nordstrom’s beauty department is similarly situated, and encourages lots of testing and play. In the center of the aisles of product are small makeover stations, where customers can get application assistance and makeovers from salespeople.

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I’m big on perfume, so my recommendations for this department are mostly situated on the northern wall. Don’t miss the selection of Jo Malone and Tom Ford fragrances.

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