Racked Recap: The Year In Turbulent Retail Stretches

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While stores come and go all over this town, this year there were a few neighborhoods that really evolved (or devolved, depending on your perspective). The following four ‘hoods were hotbeds of retail activity…

4) 14th Street in MePa: A ginormous new Apple store had us christen the entire neighborhood the “iPacking District,” but it wasn’t the only arrival MePa weathered this year. Diane von Furstenberg opened a spectacular flagship in May, bringing chic wrap dresses to 14th and Washington. In September, word leaked that Hugo Boss would be taking space on 14th right next door to Apple (the store is still under construction). Meanwhile, we awaited new flagships for Poleci and Ports 1961 nearby. Though the ‘hood welcomed many newcomers this year, it also lost delicious pastry purveyor Little Pie Company and housewares shop Bodum, which may or may not be relocating to Soho.

3) Broadway in Soho: Soho cemented its place as an outdoor tourist mall many years ago, but the stores along the infamous Broadway strip still fluctuate. Early in the year, a Mega Scoop NYC landed on Broadway and consumed an entire block with its tragically-trendy duds. Mexx bit the dust between Spring and Broome and was replaced by Hilfiger Denim, Tommy’s foray into specialty denim. It was a big year in the home décor department as both beloved Muji and CB2, Crate and Barrel’s hip little offshoot, opened on lower Broadway with much fanfare. There was good news for gals seeking inexpensive (and often skanky) clothing: Spanish retailer Mango established its first store between Prince and Spring and Forever 21 opened across the street. Decidedly more demure Madewell “popped up” in time for the holidays. And don’t forget: next year, Hugo Boss takes over Ann Taylor, Topshop anchors its first US store a few blocks south of there, and a Hollister store darkens the fate of Broadway at the corner of Houston.

2) Bleecker Street in the West Village: Mallifcation crept through the West Village in 2007, as indie mainstays keeled over and big name retailers were quick to replace them. Charley & Kalley, Gerry’s, and Condomania all shuttered, with Sunglass Hut opening recently in Condomania’s old space. Bleecker emerged as a playground for big spenders and handbag enthusiasts: both Coach Legacy and Tommy Hilfiger’s womenswear stores settled in between Perry and Charles Streets. Steve Madden set his foot down, and so, too, did frisky feminine retailer Miguelina. And who could forget the impact that Marc Jacobs had on the area? The designer planted a menswear shop at no. 382 in September (his third on the street), then hopped over to West 4th and Bank to open two more boutiques. The retail on Bleecker will continue to churn well into 2008, with plenty of empty storefront available for whomever is willing and able to pay the stratospheric rents.

1) The Bowery: Skid Row no more. The opening of the Bowery Hotel in February heralded a new era of luxury for the legendary boulevard. Bowery Video was boarded up for prostitution and Bowery Tattoo packed up for cheaper digs downtown. The Avalon Chrystie projects introduced the latest Whole Foods and the contentious Hamptons boutique Blue & Cream. More retail plans are in the works there, including a hidden alleyway of boutiques. We announced that John Varvatos is taking over the old CBGB space, where a Chase bank opened next door. Rafe bid the Bowery adieu, to be replaced by Think Coffee. Finally, The New Museum declared its arrival with a “Hell Yes!” while locals cried “hell no!” to the rumored Starbucks at the corner of Bowery and Houston.