WORTHINGTON — While many local Worthington businesses have come and gone throughout the years, one small store has remained in operation for more than two decades, thanks to the tireless efforts of its proprietor.
Rodolfo "Rudy" Gorra immigrated to Worthington in 1996 from his native Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico. He spent his first two years in the U.S. working at the local post office.
While the job was good, he never lost sight of his dream to work for himself. In 1998, Gorra was able to open his store, RG Music, on the first floor of the historic Hotel Thompson on Worthington's 10th Street. The location was ideal, since the area is heavily walked and nearby other Main Street shopping.
"I started playing the guitar when I was 9," Gorra said. He subsequently learned the bass, piano, keyboard and drums, along with other instruments.
Gorra has been teaching a wide variety of instruments — primarily the guitar — for more than 35 years. His passion for music drives his business. RG Music offers a range of about 20 musical instruments as well as accessories like strings, cases and microphones. Gorra even knows how to tune a piano and offers that service, too.
The store also has formal clothing for men and women, including dresses, suits and dress shoes. The clothes are perfect for an instrument or vocal recital, as well as other formal occasions.
Over the last 23 years, Gorra has served primarily Hispanic and Latinx community members in Worthington and the area. His music students range from young children to adults.
In the last year, two major events have significantly impacted RG Music: the Hotel Thompson renovation and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Thompson was purchased by new owners in September 2019, and their plan to renovate the building includes updating the first floor commercial space, where Gorra's store was located. One by one, each of the businesses renting space in the Thompson has moved to a new location to accommodate construction.
RG Music is now located at 919 Fourth Ave., next to Panda House. Gorra has been in the new space since June, and he says there are some pros and cons to the move. The newer building is an upgrade from the previous location, but his store is now a little removed from the main drag, which may be a limiting factor for potential customers.
COVID-19 has also created limitations for RG Music.
"People would walk by, and the pandemic stopped that," Gorra said.
Losing some walk-in foot traffic has been difficult, but the greater blow has been putting a pause on offering music lessons for the time being. Gorra loves teaching people to play instruments, but he feels it's best to stop lessons during the pandemic to keep himself and his students safe.
Like many other small businesses, RG Music has been affected by mandatory shut downs, but Gorra is determined to stay positive.
"We're going to keep going," Gorra said.