In a spirit of neighborliness, we present “Love Thy Neighbs,” our weekly series wherein we at ANIMAL introduce ourselves to some of the other businesses here in Hell’s Kitchen.

Luthier Music Corporation: 341 West 44th Street

Who are you? I’m Tony Acosta, owner of Luthier Music.

What is your business? Luthier Music carries a large selection of Classical, Flamenco guitars, Requintos, Cuatros, Tres, Ukeles, Charangos, CDs, Videos/DVDs, Sheet Music, Musical Gifts and accessories for the classical and flamenco guitar. But we’re known for our high quality nylon strings–they’ve been endorsed by legendary artists Paco de Lucia, Jorge Morel, Jose Luis Merlin, and Gerardo Nunez. No other store in the city would have it. No store in the tri-state area would have it.

How long have you been in Hell’s Kitchen? Twenty years.

How has your business changed in that time? Since things have been cleaned up around here and improved because of Giuliani, it’s gotten very safe, and the clients are better, and more clients come in. We also get more people walking by, now–tourists from Australia and Europe. We have gifts in the windows that attract the tourists, but retail-wise—in terms of product—everything has sold out for the past twelve years. And when certain performers travel, they come to the store, like George Benson and Andy Summers from Sting.

What’s the best thing about this neighborhood? It’s changed so much. When I got here, it was dirty, there were prostitutes… When it started changing, around when Giuliani was mayor, we had tremendous growth. Oh yeah, the growth has been 100%. It’s a great neighborhood. We’re a block and a half from Times Square, which brings the tourists.

What’s the worst thing about this neighborhood? Everything is so expensive now–the real estate, renting the store, everything. We used to have fourteen people on staff, now we have nine employees. But we are okay.