At the last minute, I decided to nix my annual “lookback column.” The truth is most retailers are probably looking forward to closing the books on the past 12 months.
So I’ve decided to focus on the positive and devote this space to one of my favorite subjects: the retail scene in the Big Apple. The economic downturn has certainly taken a heavy toll on Manhattan. But it’s also true that during the past couple of months, as retail rents in some key neighborhoods have declined, the city has experienced one of the biggest rushes of new and exciting stores that I can remember in some time. So many, in fact, that I don’t have nearly enough space to detail them all here. My top 10 are listed below. ( For more “must-sees” go to chainstoreage.com/WebExclusives.aspx .)
- American Eagle Outfitters: The mall-based teen fave adopted a hipper look for its Times Square outpost, both in its design and merchandise mix. But the biggest “wow” element is the facade, which features 15,000 sq. ft. of LED screens that extend 25 stories high. With a purchase, customers can have their picture taken and have it projected outside. (1551 Broadway, at 46th St.)
- Apple: With its enormous glass store front and arched all-glass roof, the city’s newest Apple is spectacular looking. The lower level features the largest area ever created by Apple for personal training and technical support, including a 45-ft. Genius Bar. (1981 Broadway, at W. 67th St.)
- Crewcuts: J. Crew’s kids store is everything you would expect: playful, tasteful and whimsical, with plenty of fun things to keep the small set occupied. (1200 Madison Ave., at 86th St.)
- Duane Reade: If only my local drug store looked this good. The two-story, 14,000-sq.-ft. store has everything from fresh sandwiches to an in-store medical clinic. The best feature is the beauty department, which has a high-end look and carries brands not typically seen in drug stores. There is even a brow bar. (1350 Broadway, at Herald Square)
- Inglot: The first and only U.S. branch of the well-known Polish beauty company, Inglot is all about color. It offers a rainbow of hues for blushes, shadows, lipsticks and nail polishes that is mesmerizing, as well as accessories galore, all affordably priced. (1592 Broadway, between 47th and 48th streets)
- Guess: Its remodeled SoHo store is unexpectedly glamorous, with gold brick walls, mirrored columns and black chandeliers. (537 Broadway, in SoHo)
- Lisa Perry: Lisa Perry is not called the queen of mod for no reason. Her store has a vibe that is part contemporary, part 1960s hip. It’s totally cool, right down to the oversized, black-and-while photo of John and Yoko. (Madison and 76th St.)
- Little MissMatched: This small shop is as fun as the merchandise on display. I especially like the “mixing bowl,” where shoppers can create customized three-packs of socks, mismatched, of course. (565 Fifth Ave., at 46th St.)
- Tommy Hilfiger: This new global flagship embodies the Tommy brand . It’s a seamless blend of the cool and classical, and American through and through. Check out the fiberglass staircase, which seems to swoop through the store’s four upper floors. (681 Fifth Ave., between 53rd and 54th streets)
- Victoria’s Secret: Awash in pink and white and framed in glossy black, Vicky’s SoHo flagship has a fancy boudoir look, complete with satin-upholstered chairs. The 24, 000-sq.-ft. store is divided into mini-sections that include a luxurious bra salon. A body scanner ensures a perfect fit. The fitting rooms have a glam look and feature call buttons to summon staff. (565 Broadway, between Price and Spring streets)
Those are my faves. I’d love to know yours -- shoot me an e-mail.