Best Tech Store - 2005
1 Stockton (at Ellis), 392-0202, www.apple.com/retail/sanfrancisco
Nobody had any right to expect Apple to build a store this cool, except maybe Mac users. From the metallic exterior to the airy interior, this slick gallery is a potent weapon to lure Windows users. Although most people head straight for the iPods and Bose headphones, plenty experience whiplash when they pass the Power Mac G5s and Cinema Displays and it dawns on them, "Hey, my computer doesn't look like that." The store is filled with the white-and-silver Mac line, everything plugged in, resting on wood tables bathed in white light. It's a salon more than a store. The clerks are smart, all bright smiles and white teeth. Even the price tags are cool -- a simple printed number (often shockingly high) nestled under a product description devoid of tech-speak. Up a clear stairway lies the Genius Bar, where experts thoroughly answer questions, and there's a minitheater for free, one-hour workshops on Apple gear.