The Chelsea Hotel is a storied meeting spot for musicians, writers, and artists. And there’s been a music store in the hotel since 1908. For over a quarter century, Chelsea Guitars has been that place. But now, owner Dan Courtenay has been given until June 30 to vacate the premises. He’s not sure he can afford to stay in the neighborhood — and his neighbors don’t want to lose him.
“I care about my store, above and beyond money,” Courtenay said. “The history of mom-and-pop shops doesn’t really exist anymore.”
For nearly three decades, Courtenay’s tiny shop, located at 224 W. 23rd St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) has been a gathering place for musicians, who come from as far away as Asia, Europe, and South America to purchase his vintage guitars. They come to him not only for the best guitars, but to tap into a piece of the Chelsea Hotel’s global reputation for creative expression. Courtenay said that those who once chose to stay at the hotel (and continue to show up, even while it’s closed for repairs) are seeking the kind of New York City experience that his store has always offered — a value-added service, he said, that shouldn’t be dismissed.