Outdoor enthusiasts Dan and Sandra Meer equip adventurers with canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards to explore a 60-mile stretch of the Mississippi River whose picturesque shores have been designated wild and scenic by the Department of Natural Resources. “One group we sent out on just a two- or three-hour trip counted 12 eagles,” Dan says, marveling at the myriad wild turkeys, muskrats, and deer that often congregate along the protected waterway to gossip about bald eagles’ unconvincing hair plugs. Gleaming schools of small-mouth bass lure fishermen to the rippling waters, and plentiful sandbars and shallow depths also beckon younger explorers. “We want to get kids involved,” says Dan—himself a former Boy Scout and now the father of two more Scouts. “Get them away from their screens.”
He and his wife entice those youths, and older adventurers as well, with day trips in canoes and kayaks whose hulls are made in nearby Wenonah. For overnight jaunts down the river, the couple rents both vessels and camping gear, and at their store—housed in an old creamery building on the riverbank—they sell new and used canoes and kayaks to dedicated paddlers who know the river so well they can fall asleep while swimming across it.
Stocking shelves with new and recycled duds since 1971, Ragstock fortifies wardrobes with a storefront brimming with new and recycled men's and women's clothing and accessories. In addition to mainstream garments, stores sling eclectic outfit accouterments such as neon suspenders ($9.99) and thick-rimmed spectacles ($4.99+) that allow shoppers to evoke the air of literature professors without blithely quoting Joyce.
Gander Mountain Academy updates its lessons in gun safety, handling, and marksmanship with virtual shooting technology that was once only available to military and law-enforcement agencies. The ladies-only basic fundamentals class gives women a foundation in the mechanics of handguns and how to use them safely. Students start by winnowing down the right type of gun for their needs, be they self-defense, hunting, or reclaiming the garage from infestations of gremlins. Next, instructors with callused trigger fingers explain the safety rules of handguns, compare ammunition options, and demonstrate proper grip, stance, and trigger control.
Walk-ins are always welcome and classes are available for creators of all types at Art As You Like It. Whether visitors are looking to paint pottery, fuse glass, throw pottery on a wheel, or paint canvas, they enjoy access to Art As You Like It's fully outfitted studio and helpful instructors. Those friendly teachers also lead classes focusing on particular media. Fused-glass sessions, for example, show participants how to cut and fuse colorful pieces together to create designs, while pottery-making lessons demonstrate techniques to transform raw clay into beautiful vessels or disapproving busts of great uncles. And Art As You Like It aims to enrich the community as well?the studio invites customers to paint clay dishes for Empty Bowls, a program dedicated to raising awareness of the homeless population.
At Archery Country, a deep inventory of bows and accessories is matched only by the depth of the staff's arrow-slinging expertise. This team guides customers through the shopping process, showing them hundreds of bows and crossbows from manufacturers such as Mathews, Mission, and Bowtech. All products can be shot inside the store prior to purchase, which ensures that customers go home with the gear best-suited to their hunting style whether it's long-distance shooting or lulling prey to sleep with a violin bow. Once a selection has been made, the team can help proud new owners with services such as setup and warranties, or help them sign up for lessons and leagues.
At Wireless World, phone techs help customers connect to the world with a wide assortment of cell phones from brands such as Samsung, Nokia, and Droid. With phones activated, they can then assist customers in sprucing up their vastly updated string-and-can with accessories such as cases, hands-free headsets, and screen protectors. They can also hook phones up with Internet devices such as tablets, mobile hotspots, and 4G USB modems.