MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Even before Wednesday night’s destruction and looting, a number of downtown businesses had been re-thinking their future in the city.

WCCO spoke with some of them Thursday about the damage they endured and their futures moving forward.

One of those businesses is Dahl Medical Supply, located at 12th and Nicollet. They’ve been downtown for about 12 years.

“You feel so hopeless and helpless. I have to get there. I have to defend,” Lisa Steffes said.

That helpless feeling grew throughout Wednesday night, as Steffes watched surveillance video of looters ransacking her store.

“We had several windows broken. And we had a lot of looting. They stole things. They stole all of our computers and technology,” Steffes said. “We are a family-owned business. It’s just not worth it anymore being downtown. And we all grew up working downtown.”

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Blocks away at The Saloon, assistant manager Bobby Palmer made the call to close early Wednesday evening. He says they got lucky. Looters broke in but did minimal damage to the bar.

“Definitely was a feeling of, ‘This isn’t safe anymore.’ We have to get people out of here,” Palmer said. “Nothing we can’t replace. Nothing we can’t fix. Most important thing is our community is safe.”

While Palmer says the Saloon has no plans to leave downtown, other businesses could soon close their doors for good.

Chad Laux has run Greenway Chiropractic at 811 LaSalle for 17 years. He first lost customers to COVID-19, but Laux says downtown crime has made things worse.

“We’ve lost six people in this building already,” Laux said.

His first client Thursday cancelled, with a reason he’s heard far too often lately.

“She’s lived downtown for at least 10 years. She called me up and said, ‘Let me know when you move.’ She’s not coming. She lives about six blocks over. She’s not coming downtown anymore,” Laux said.

Laux says he’s been emailing Minneapolis City Council members for months about his concerns, but only Lisa Goodman has returned his emails. He says he had hoped to be downtown for 25 years, but he’s now looking into ways to get out of his lease.

A few blocks away, Tim Murray of Murray’s Steakhouse believes that, overall, downtown is still safe. He thinks the city will overcome the events of the past few months.

“At the end of the day I think we’ll find that people aren’t as far apart as we think they might be,” he said.

That’s what Tanzil Sallahudiin is hoping for too. He grew up here and calls what happened Wednesday night sad and unnecessary.

“Especially yesterday, because people are already assuming that the police killed a man. And they are finding a reason to loot for no damn reason, pretty much,” he said.

John Lauritsen

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