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The Biggest Retail Conquistadors

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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.

This was not a good year for would-be conquistadors. At this point, any store that managed to not close more than half its doors deserves a medal. But among all the closing and opening of stores on our fair island, three brands stood out as The Top Retail Conquistadors of 2009.

3.) Nygård: Yes, there is only one Nygård in New York, but the shadowy Canadian mogul's eponymous brand makes our list on the strength of terrifying the pants off us, and because if they do wind up colonizing the city as part of a sci-fi alien takeover plot next year, we want to be able to say we saw it coming.

2.) Swarovski: Between the Swarovski comparatively ritzy Crystallized flagship on Broadway and the endless Swarovski Crystal mall shops, only one thing seemed stable in New York retail: Tourists will always be willing to open their wallets for shiny souvenirs.

1.) Ricky's: Everyone's favorite neon hair care and sex toy scavenger follows deceased stores like a plucky little neon hyena in a hot-pink wig. All through October, as soon as a store shuttered—Bam!—a Ricky's Halloween Shop showed up.
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