Catonsville Patch: How long have you been in business in Catonsville?
Nick Anthony: I opened Anthony Instrument Repair a little bit over two years ago. We moved up from Pasadena where I was working out of my house for a little over a year before I found this place.
Patch: Why did you choose Catonsville?
Anthony: I love being in Catonsville. While I was working for a decade at Appalachian Bluegrass and my wife was going to UMBC, we lived in an apartment over where the skate shop used to be. That was the carriage house where the Catons lived while they were waiting for their mansion to be built.
There’s so much going on here with the music business. It’s not bad for business when you own a music related shop and there are five other shops within a stone’s throw. As far as repair work is concerned, there’s enough work for everybody.
Patch: How did you develop these skills?
Anthony: I’ve always tinkered with my own instruments, setting up my own guitars when I was a kid. At one point I just decided that I wanted to do it and I called every instrument repair shop every day for about six months. Finally, Emory Knode at Appalachian Bluegrass let me come in around Christmas time, when he was really busy, to help string guitars. He gave me my start.
They kept me on and I convinced them to let me do a four year apprenticeship. Eventually I was doing most of their repair work and my wife and I had a son and my wife was finished with school and we decided it was time to go out on my own.
Patch: What do you like about being in Catonsville?
Anthony: I dig that there are a lot of music stores. Plus it’s got that Mayberry feel. I don’t think there’s any business owner on the street that doesn’t know the other business owners.
Patch: What services do you do?
Anthony: We do set-up work, basically a tune-up for the instrument. We also do customization, everything from pick-up installation to custom paint work. Also, we do finish repair and structural repair and restoration. We can take an old guitar that hasn’t been played in twenty to thirty years and just needs a little TLC, and we’ll bring it back to life.
Patch: Do you work on guitars exclusively?
Anthony: No, we do all stringed instruments, guitars is the big one, but we also do bass, mandolin. We had a Greek bouzouki in here the other day, just to show you the range of instruments.
Patch: What is your busiest time of year?
Anthony: Business is pretty steady but Christmas is always busy with people getting things fixed up as gifts. We’ll have busy spots but it’s not really predictable. Most of my work comes in by appointment.
Patch: Do you have a signature service or specialty thing you do?
Anthony: Probably flat top acoustic restoration, but I’m pretty darn good at all of it.
Patch: What’s one of the hardest things about your work?
Anthony: That’s a good question. Probably managing my time. As an owner, I’ve got email, phone calls, taxes, all the business stuff and somewhere in between, I have to find the time to actually fix guitars.
Patch: What are you proud of?
Anthony: You’re standing in it. We opened up at a pretty challenging time economically, so I’m pretty proud that we’re still open and operating. I’ve started my own business and it’s worth something and there’s a possible career here for my son if he should be interested. It’s there for him.
Patch: Does your son play an instrument?
Anthony: We all play instruments at our house all the time. Music isn’t a hobby for us, it’s a way of life. My wife plays the upright bass; my main string is guitar but I also play bass, mandolin, the banjo, a little bit of keyboard and drums and a dash of harmonica. Wyatt is three and a half, so right now he’s mostly just banging on the guitar. We’re not pushing music on him but we figure he’ll want to pick something up.
Patch: What’s your favorite thing about your work?
Anthony: I like it all. I love that it’s something different every day. It’s not an assembly line in here. I must have a little ADD cause I need to be going in ten different directions.
Patch: What's the best piece of advice that someone has given you when it comes to starting a business?
Anthony: [laughing] Well, everyone told me not to do it.
But then they said if you’re gonna do it, do it all out, don’t cut corners, and be prepared to work an ungodly number of hours.
Patch: What is one thing you think is needed in the business community?
Anthony: I’d like to see more music at night, like Frederick Road Fridays and the Lurman, get people more used to hanging out in Catonsville. It’s crazy that the UMBC and college crowd drive through Catonsville to get to Ellicott City for a hip place to go to drink and listen to music. I do a jam night here once a month; it’s through the Baltimore Guitarist Group and open to the public. It started as a promo for the shop but it has become so much more.
Patch: What are you looking forward to?
Anthony: Watching my kid grow up, expanding my business, all of it. Any day on the right side of the dirt is a good one.