Building for change from the ground up

Garrett Short
Updated: June 26, 2020 10:41 PM
Created: June 26, 2020 07:56 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Rochester native Daniel Johnson is looking for a brighter future after losing his Minneapolis store in the protests following the death of George Floyd.

Johnson and his cousin have co-owned Levels for seven years, focusing on apparel and music. He had stores in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Only one remains.


"We told everyone you can just leave. The National Guard is here. Well they burned it down in front of the National Guard. We actually made it in time to watch the building fall," Johnson said.

Johnson watched his hard work crumble. Despite the huge blow to his business, he didn't shed a tear watching the building buckle from the flames.

"We cried about the video that we saw with the man being killed. We didn't cry about watching our building die. We cried about watching a human being die. It was symbolic for us, saying, it's time to build it back up from the ashes," Johnson said.

"Us losing our location was really minute to everything that's going on now. Our store died with George Floyd. We look at it as someone lost their life. We lost a business. We have nothing to cry about. We still have our life, as you see, we can still make things happen."

Johnson is hopeful seeing the call for justice across the world. He hopes people appreciate life more after watching it dwindle out of one man in a viral video.

"You're not promised tomorrow. It could've happened to me, it could've happened to your brother, sister, everyone. We could've gotten there 30 minutes before they burned it down and been in there, and in our studio. We could've died and went down with the building," Johnson said.

Levels is currently in a pop-up shop location in the Apache Mall until July 2. Johnson is hoping the business can find a permanent home in Rochester in the near future. He is hoping to merge his hometown and his business, and serve as a role model to his kids and his community.

"They watches us build it from the ground to begin with. So to watch us lose it and then build it back up, I think it means everything and I think it'll teach them good lessons about life. If it's hard to get back up, you still have to get back up," Johnson said.

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