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The Five Best Shops to Watch in 2011

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With only a few hours left in 2010, 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 (four years running!) Racked Recap. This week, we've been reliving our biggest and brightest (and saddest and darkest) moments, from the best pop-up shops to the best store openings. Take a deep breath of the sweet, sweet nostalgia.

2010 is just about over, and with the year switch, we're psyching ourselves up for another 12 months of walking down the street and saying "whoa, when did that store open?" Of course some are way, way more anticipated than others, so joint us as we count down the Five Best Shops to Watch in 2011.

5. Nars. It's really not so much a surprise that French makeup master Francois Nars is opening a small boutique on the same block as Marc Jacobs' Bleecker mini-mall, considering how closely he and MJ have worked together over Jacobs' last several collections. Instead, the shocker is that this store will be Nars' first Manhattan shop, despite already having several around the world.

For now, the facade sports only a plywood with an image of dripping nail polish, but we're betting that February's Fashion Week will bring a little more beauty to Bleecker, along with M.A.C. due to open down the blocks a bit more.

4. Whole Foods Gowanus. It may only exist in a pretty watercolor rendering right now, but Brooklyn's first Whole Foods is going to be a game-changer. First, we'll discover if they can surmount the environmental issues of the Gowanus area, and then if they can pull off actually selling the organic produce they'll be growing on their own roof. Mmm...tastes like Brooklyn?

3. Burberry on Bleecker. Bleecker Street is a verifiable retail soap opera, and Burberry is its next doe-eyed drama queen. Taking over one of the last antique shops left on the street, Burberry is both the birth and death of Bleecker. From here on, it's no better than a fancy-dancy shopping mall, but, one the other hand, the floodgates are officially open to mainstream luxury brands. How much longer until an LV-branded plywood goes up near Magnolia Cupcakes?

2. Alexander Wang. Oh Yohji, why hast thou deserted us? The former Yamamoto space in Soho is undergoing a renovation to become the first ever Alexander Wang store. And even though it's within about two minutes' walk of both Opening Ceremony and Kirna Zabete, where one can already find his clothing, the Wang flagship is poised to become a 2011 hotspot for wannabe models and Nylon subscribers. Too bad it's not due to debut until after February's Fashion Week.

1.Uniqlo Fifth Avenue. You'd think that, after the city has seemingly already filled a hefty portion of its wardrobe with skinny jeans, the +J collab and colorful, quality basics from Uniqlo, that the excitement would be minimal for its second NYC location. Well you'd be thinking wrong, because ever since the 3-story white plywood started towering above the crowded sidewalk below, it's been Uniqlo this and Uniqlo that and if Uniqlo is there, why can't Uniqlo just be everywhere?
· All Racked Recaps [Racked NY]

Uniqlo - Soho

546 Broadway, New York, NY 10012 Visit Website

Alexander Wang

103 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013 212-977-9683 Visit Website

NARS

413 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014 646-459-2323 Visit Website