GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan - A Lower Manhattan institution is no more after Matt Umanov Guitars shut its doors on December 3.
He said the decision to close the store on Bleecker Street between 6th and 7th avenues in Greenwich Village was very difficult emotionally.
"A huge sense of loss," he said. "This is my identity. This is all I've done since I'm 17 years old, and I love it. I love the instruments, I love the people. It's the people that I'll miss the most."
The loss of the store will be felt most among the people who live in the neighborhood where his store has become icon after more than a half-century in business.
"I started out in this business doing repairs and restorations," he said. "I was, and I don't mind saying it, I was the whiz kid in the 60s in New York."
For generations of guitar gods, this store was a temple, and Matt was their guru.
"If you had really valuable or precious or high-quality instrument and it needed serious work, I was the only person to take it to," he said. "We first started selling older instruments, what are now called vintage instruments, we didn't have that word back then, and we love this stuff. So the reputation built essentially on high quality and integrity."
Prince was one of his customers, but not all them were rock stars. Far from it.
"The one thing that I can feel the best about is that having helped so many people to make music," he said. "Making music is a wonderful thing. It improves one in uncountable ways. And I felt very good about that."