From the Providence City News series "Buy Providence: My Business"
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Johnny “Bomba” Rodriguez arrived in Providence in 1993 with few resources other than a strong work ethic and a profound love of music. Dominicans in the city are proud of their strong cultural connection to their homeland and one of the most obvious expressions of this bond is their love of music and dance, particularly Merengue and Bachata.
Today, Rodriguez is the proud owner of El Palacio de la Musica (The Music Palace) on Broad Street, and has become an expert at maximizing every square inch of space in his small store. Offering CDs, DVDs, and a variety of gift items, Rodriguez’s boutique is one of the many neighborhood markets in the Creative Capital that is looking forward to your visit during the holiday shopping season.
Why did you start a business in Providence?
I came to the city looking for a new beginning and dreamt of the day when I would operate my very own business. I was walking down Broad Street and decided to enter a music store called El Palacio de la Musica (The Music Palace). After striking up a conversation with the owner that lasted for several hours, I was offered a job on the spot.
Six years later, in 1999, I purchased the store and expanded it to include Spanish-language DVDs, gifts, electronic accesories and a variety of handicrafts from the Dominican Republic. In the ten years since, El Palacio de la Musica has seen its ups and downs but I am as enthusiastic and optimistic as ever.
How’s the business going?
Things aren’t as good as they have been in the past, but I can’t complain either. We have adapted to the times and try to offer products that people want and often can’t find anywhere else.
What’s the best part about being a Broad Street merchant?
I am proud of being a Broad Street business owner. This is one of the city’s most vibrant and active business districts. There is a certain energy about ‘la Broad’ that is hard to replicate. Aside from the huge number of Dominicans who call this area home, there are people from all over the world and all walks of life and that is very exciting.
Tell us about your product line.
There are literally thousands of CDs, DVDs, and gift items on display - floor to ceiling - on all four walls, including the door and windows facing out to Broad Street.
Latin music has gained considerable mainstream appeal and my store has an incredible variety of Latin music available, ranging from Merengue and Bachata to Salsa, Pop, Cumbia and, of course, Reggaeton which is very popular with the younger generations.
Why should people shop at your store?
If you want to explore Latino culture in the city of Providence, I think this is a great place to start.
What’s next for El Palacio?
I would like to move to a bigger store so I can continue to expand my unique and eclectic mix of music, videos, electronic accessories and handicrafts.
El Palacio de la Musica is located on 1023 Broad Street. Johnny’s store is open from 8:30 a.m to 10:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more on the Buy Providence campaign, go to http://bpba.providenceri.com/index.php.