With only a few days left in 2009, it's time to look back at a year of dizzying highs and crushing lows, a year when every empty storefront held a pop-up shop and every sidewalk a sample sale line. Folks, it's the annual (three years running!) Racked Recap. This week, we'll be reliving our biggest and brightest (and saddest and darkest) moments, from the best collabs to the worst pop-up shops. Take a deep breath of the sweet, sweet nostalgia.
We lost a lot of good stores this year, from chains that had become part of the landscape to cult downtown boutiques. Let's salute these fallen heroes with our top eight saddest closings of 2009.
8.) Oscar Wilde Bookshop: This was a bad year for bookstores in general, but the death of West Village staple Oscar Wilde felt particularly sad. When the historic gay and lesbian bookshop left, it took some of the neighborhood's old character with it.
7.) Shabby Chic: After the brand that encouraged us all to decorate like British country grandmas declared bankruptcy this year, both the Soho and Upper West Side locations shuttered. Owner and cult figure Rachel Ashwell coped by writing a tear-soaked poem and publishing it on her website.
5.) Detour Soho: After two decades in Soho, during which it helped shape the neighborhood's retail scene and introduced New York to labels like Diesel, Detour shut down its women's shop this summer. "I found my prom dress at Detour," mourned a commenter. "It was custom made and it was fabulous! I will cherish Detour forever for it. Especially sad to see this one go."
4.) Yoko Devereaux: There were two pieces of art in this South Williamsburg boutique, which housed the label's hip menswear: Posters of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. The same day both icons died, designer Andy Saltzer lost his funding. Fate's a bitch, but at least the line was able to close with a dramatic wake at the Box.
3.) Staerk: Danish designer Camilla Staerk's only boutique, which was as dark and sexy as her namesake label, shut down this spring after less than a year in business. Staerk is still selling her wares online at Staerk.com.
2.) Shop: LES retail pioneer Shop moved from a prominent perch at Stanton and Ludlow to a larger but less trafficked spot on Orchard below Delancey in the summer of 2008, and switch might have done them in. The store closed permanently and abruptly back in June.
1.) Virgin Megastore Union Square: Of course, we also lost this store's Times Square sister and its neighbor Circuit City. But neither of those closings felt quite as dramatic as this one, which robbed Union Square of a cold-weather meeting place and all-weather landmark. Where are we going to tell people to meet us now? Tim Horton's?