Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Death of an Iconic Guitar Store

As the management of New York City’s Hotel Chelsea jacks-up their rent to attract more up-market clientele, will this force the smaller shops renting their place to close – i.e. guitar stores?

By: Ringo Bones

Another iconic landmark of New York City is now set to close shop due to the recession and their landlord’s decision to jack-up rent in order to woo more up-market clientele. A few years ago it was CBGB’s, the ancestral birthplace of Punk Rock. Now it is Dan’s Chelsea Guitars located at the ground floor of the Hotel Chelsea. This hotel has served as a prime destination for Bohemian artists as far back as when Mark Twain was still writing masterpieces. And Dan’s Chelsea Guitars had served clients as iconic as Bob Dylan and Sid Vicious during the store’s long history. It probably even inspired big wigs like Jon Bon Jovi to write songs about the iconic hotel.

Now forced to perform a Bernie Madoff-inspired fire sale in order to get rid of their excess inventory. Dan Courtney, owner of Dan’s Chelsea Guitars is now deciding to close down his venerable guitar shop because there is no point in running it when the rates are so high, the shops earnings will go to the landlord, ruining the economic viability of the once iconic shop. The axe merchant has now fell victim to an axe of a more lethal kind – business wise. Which is kind of sad, given that the electric guitar had since become a part of post-World War II Americana and ushered in the birth of Rock n' Roll.

New York City has been famous the world over for having esoteric-item shops being run by an eccentric shopkeeper who could care less about selling you anything if you harbor a bad attitude about their wares - Even if you have the commensurate amounts of dosh. Given the number of years it’s been around, Dan’s Chelsea Guitars have served quite a diverse clientele. From a Hassidic Rabbi trying out a Gibson Les Paul caught on Dan’s mobile phone camera to probably lesser known but equally iconic New York City based guitarists like Gina of Lunachicks. Given that the shop has probably been selling classic used and broken-in Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Stratocasters at reasonable prices, will the skillful guitarist who don’t have more money than sense be able to afford decent-sounding new ones with prices approaching 10,000 US dollars each?


  1. First, it was the closing of CBGB's - which iconic punk rocker Patti Smith was unable to save, now this! I was saddened after seeing the news story featured on the BBC. I think the Rabbi trying out guitars is the coolest segment of the story. Dan's iconic guitar store will surely be missed.

  2. I saw it on the BEEB a few months ago. Probably the coolest Rabbi in NYC. Whoever says Jews can't rock?