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The Best New Stores of the Year

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With only a few days left in the year, it's time to look back on 2011 with the annual (five years running!) Racked Recap. This week, we'll be reliving our biggest and brightest (and saddest and darkest) moments, from the best pop-up shops to the best sales of the year. Take a deep breath of the sweet, sweet nostalgia, with a look back at this year's Best New Stores.

This year, Manhattan welcomed a bevvy of new stores. There was the Parisian invasion, a slew of hip and cool boutiques, downtown and uptown stores, and even a new addition to Apple. Join us as we take a look at this year's Top Ten New Stores.

10. Mary Meyer
Mary Meyer dared to take the L train a little bit further than Williamsburg, and set up a boutique off the Morgan stop in Bushwick, which isn't exactly known for a bustling retail scene (with the exception of mini-mall The Loom). Bogart & Moore curated the in-house vintage shop, there's jewelry from Lisa Levine, Osborn and Dolce Vita shoes from WIlliamsburg's Shoe Market, and of course, the designer's ultra-comfy slouchy tees and dresses.

9. Madewell
Madewell's Flatiron flagship is big—it's 6,500 square feet—and it's not on that always-crowded stretch of Broadway that the Soho store lives on. We're all for having more Madewell, all the time, so the Flatiron flagship gave us just another opportunity to pillage the Alexa Chung collections.

8. The Reformation
You might not expect it from a store on Ludlow, but the Reformation is quite large. Inside, there's a ton of reworked vintage to shop, as well as other vendors like Cosabella, Eberjey, Pamela Love, Anna Sheffield, and Lindsey Thornburg for the Reformation (the cloaks are slightly cheaper, but not that much). There's also a mezzanine covered in Turkish rugs and a four-post bed covered in plants.

7. Helmut Lang & Theysken Theory
When Helmut Lang and Theyskens Theory decided to basically share a spot on Mercer, we were beyond delighted. They sort of kept things separate—Helmut Lang is at 93 Mercer, and Theyskens is at 93.5—but basically, there's no actual barrier so we're counting it as the same store. It's a pretty large space, and we love both brands, so this one was win-win.

6. Sephora Meatpacking
The new Sephora in Meatpacking isn't the brand's flagship, but it's certainly impressive nonetheless. It's quite sleek and fancy, there's artwork (like the "Flamenco Tornado" sculpture), LED displays, touch screens, and no cash wrap. Basically, it's the Sephora of the future. Oh, and lest we forget that there's a lash bar for the ultimate game of dress-up.

5. Tie: Sandro and Maje
It's hard to say which of these Parisian imports is better, and the fact that they're founded by sisters makes it even harder. Both offer smart blazers, really chic party dresses, and both make you feel just a little bit like Marion Cotillard while shopping in there. If the Parisians want to keep planting all their cool-girl stores in our city, well, who are we to stop them?

4. Apple Store Grand Central
Sure, in comparison to Fifth Avenue, Apple's new location inside of Grand Central isn't all that mindblowing. But it completely dominates the East Balcony (with glowing Apple logos and all) and it ignited tremendous hysteria when it opened and even Blake Lively was there. It's sort of like a maze/railroad apartment, since you basically just walk through rooms and rooms of iPads to get to rooms and rooms of MacBooks. All we know is that if we could fiddle around with someone else's gadgets or charge our phones before waiting for the train each day, we'd probably be pretty happy.

3. Laduree
Maison Ladurée's macarons are amazing, as made pretty clear by the lines to get in when it opened, the lines to get in a few weeks after that, and the lines that were there a few days ago. Sure, the macarons are $3 a pop, but they're insanely delicious.

2. Alexander Wang
Of course the first Alexander Wang store has a fur hammock inside of it. We were mostly just excited that there was one central location to shop for all of Wang's tees, drapey dresses, leather things, and those bags, but then he went and plopped a fur hammock in there. The only downside? You probably can't have your wedding registry there—we tried.

1. Treasure & Bond
Nobody really knew what the hell was going to be inside of Treasure & Bond when it was about ready to open. The Nordstrom-backing made it kind of confusing, and for a while there, we thought we were getting a Nordstrom. Turns out though, it wasn't—but it is a really sweet spot to stock up on clothes and accessories (Vince, Levi's Made & Crafted, Thursday Friday), home goods, knick-knacks and books, all while being philanthropic. Yup, in case you've forgotten—absolutely 100% of all the proceeds go to charity.

· All Racked 2011 Recaps [Racked NY]