Community comes together to help DTLA Music Store reopen

LOS ANGELES – My 30, amid nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, looters descended on the International House of Music, also known as IHOMI.

What do you want to know

  • IHOMI is one of the oldest music stores downtown and dates back to 1902
  • Oscar Naranjo started working in the store’s warehouse in the 1970s
  • He eventually bought the store and has owned it since 1980
  • The store was looted at the end of May and about 80% of their merchandise was lost

Oscar Naranjo, owner of the downtown Los Angeles musical instrument and accessories store, says the vandals caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost and damaged merchandise.

“We saw that everything was gone, everything was broken and it broke my heart,” Naranjo said.

Looters even broke ‘Nipper’, a statue of the RCA dog that was a longtime symbol of the store. Nipper had been a part of the store for decades. Many knew the store as “La Casa del Perro” or the “House of the Dog”.

“In the 1940s and 50s RCA gave us the statue, we put it in front of the store and it became a symbol, most customers wouldn’t remember the address or the name of the store but they remember ‘La Casa del Perro’,” Naranjo said.

DAS Audio launched a GoFundme to help replace Nipper and the store has now been rebuilt using insurance money and help from music and audio companies who have donated merchandise. Artists who frequent the store have also provided moral and emotional support and helped financially by purchasing musical and audio equipment.

It’s a business that holds a special place for Naranjo and his family. Naranjo immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico at age 17 and started working in the store’s warehouse in the 1970s. He bought out IHOMI in 1980.

Over the years, many popular musicians have stopped by the store to purchase instruments, including regional Mexican bands Los Tigres del Norte, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, and Bronco.

While seeing the destruction caused by the raiders still upset Naranjo, he chooses to focus on the support he has gained when needed.

“We feel blessed and that’s what it is, the music community, the power of music and the will to keep doing what we do,” he said.

He says he will never forget how musicians, music companies and the community came together to help him reopen.

Alice P. Darby