Lower East Side music shop Ludlow Guitars had its last day earlier this week, ending its 17-year run on the street that gave it its name. As the shop’s owner, Kaan Howell, busily packed the place up in preparation for its decamp to Brooklyn, he took some time to get a couple final polaroids in the old shop—presumably the last before it inevitably turns into a fusion restaurant/hotel/dog therapist.
On Monday, Howell and his employee Garrett Lovell—along with members of the neighboring Con Artist Collective—took a moment to celebrate the memories. Photographer Nick McManus snapped these Parting Shots for us.
The guitar shop has been at its 172 Ludlow location for the last six years and before that was just up the block at 162 Ludlow for its first eleven years. Now, Howell says, they’re looking to reopen in the coming months in either Bushwick or Bed-Stuy.
In a statement on the shop’s website, Howell wrote, “We would like to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for helping making Ludlow Guitars what it is today, and though we are sad to go, not all is lost.”
Howell said he made the decision to move not because he couldn’t make rent on Ludlow, but because the neighborhood had changed so much that he knew it would only be a matter of time before they had to relocate.
“To keep this shop going properly in the longterm and for the best of its future it needs to have a little change,” Howell told us. “The change is partly to do with how this neighborhood is changing, which is different than [when we started].”
Even though his lease isn’t up, Howell said he looked around at the influx of upscale clothing stores and luxury hotels and figured now was as good a time as any to move on. This way, he’ll at least get to leave on his own terms. The move to Bushwick he added, makes sense, since “a lot of the people who originally started on the Lower East Side when I was here moved out into Brooklyn and a lot of them ended up in Bushwick.”
Despite the change in scenery, Howell said that the shop will most likely keep the name “Ludlow.” Howell, who is British, pointed out that there are plenty of other Ludlow-named places in the world, like Ludlow Castle in England—so it’s not just a LES thing.
All those decisions, however, are a while off. For now, Howell is busy packing up the shop’s guitars, amps, pedals and miscellany. So busy, in fact, that he says the emotional weight of leaving his longtime home-away-from-home hasn’t really sunk in yet.
“I feel like I’ve gone to the doctor’s and I’ve been told I have something terminal and that I’m actually just not listening to it,” Howell said. “It hasn’t quite hit me yet—I have the sense it’s going to, but I’m not accepting it yet.”