Midwest Mountaineering can trace its origins back to 1970, when avid rock climber Rod Johnson found himself frustrated with the lack of climbing equipment available in Minneapolis. When Johnson returned from a voyage to California with a backpack full of gear, he decided to sell his accumulated goodies to friends and local climbers out of his own kitchen, calling his operation The Johnson Company. As his business grew, so did its inventory—expanding to include tents, skis, kayaks, and canoes. Rod’s business quickly became too big for his kitchen, eventually landing at its current location under the name Midwest Mountaineering.
Today, the store continues to equip outdoor adventurers with quality gear and apparel. A cheerful blue-and-red sign splays across its historic storefront, which houses racks of apparel and specialty equipment for an array of extreme sports that includes long-distance backpacking, paddling, and ice climbing. Kayaks and canoes, which customers may try out before purchasing during regular boat demonstrations, dangle from ceilings next to life preservers, and shoes, coats, and athletic gear line the exposed-brick walls. An enthusiastic staff of outdoor aficionados stands by to offer customers tips on finding optimal products and the best clothing lines to impress fashion-conscious wildlife, as well as lead regular instructional workshops, hands-on clinics, and special events.