We're still a little afraid of the Soho Topshop. The 14-year-olds. The bright colors. The bangle bracelets large enough to seriously injure a small child. Sometimes it feels more like an acid trip at a suburban day care than, well, shopping. Yet Sir Philip Green has been scouting Manhattan for a second location for the store in a high-traffic neighborhood. And he may be thisclose to landing one at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street, where Brooks Brothers once stood. Sir Philip may have to outbid retail heavyweights also interested in the space. Uniqlo is said to be his fiercest competitor at the moment. Topshop's other Soho neighbors, Zara and Forever 21, also have eyes on the space, which reportedly rents for $30 million a year. But Sir Philip is rich enough. It's nothing he can't handle.
The spot is understandably desirable; despite the hobbled retail market, the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 49th and 59th Streets continues to do pretty well, thanks to tourists taking advantage of our weak dollar. While vacant storefronts pepper Madison Avenue (and the rest of the city, for that matter), only two empty spaces line this ten-block stretch — the old Sergio Rossi store and the old Brooks Brothers space. It's actually kind of a creepy reality. In fact, this stretch of shopping could be the scariest in the entire city, with the monolithic techno pumping from Abercrombie at 57th Street, and the polar-opposite throng of fur-clad Bergdorf shoppers a couple of blocks up, and that giant, useless popcorn store that we know is in there somewhere. Now they want to add a Topshop? Or Forever 21? And the accompanying cesspool of adolescent estrogen? Thank God we hardly ever go uptown.