Big-box stores have taken over the commerce of everything from guitars to organic foods, and sporting goods are not exempt from the trend. That just seems...wrong. When you're outfitting for a weekend of boating in the Boundary Waters or biking in the boonies, you want a shopping experience that doesn't feel like a trip to buy toilet paper at Walmart. That's why we're fortunate to have an independent sporting goods company like Midwest Mountaineering. Grassroots from its start in 1970, when founder and rock climber Rod Johnson hitchhiked to California and returned with a backpack full of gear to sell to friends, it's now an anchor of the West Bank, where it's resided for over 30 years. Whether your thing is climbing, paddling, or kiting, or you just need some of those super-warm socks, Midwest has it all. In keeping with its mission to provide not just gear but also expertise to local outdoors enthusiasts, the store hosts events and expositions, as well as affordable clinics catering to everyone from newbies to pros.