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Need equipment? Shop Duluth

BY SARA JOCHEMS
OUTDOOR DULUTH REPORTER

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As Sophia Petrillo would say on the “Golden Girls? before she started one of her stories: “Picture it:? Duluth, 2008. A college student walked along the snowy sidewalks of Fourth Street in search of outdoor equipment. To her right was the city bus bringing people to their various destinations. To her left was the inviting orange “Skihut? sign. She walked in.

She was taken aback by what she saw: skis, skis and more skis lined up against the wall. Lime green skis, orange skis, silver skis, and even skis with a hint of hot pink along the sides. Skis come in this many colors?
She turned her head and saw an assortment of winter clothing. From snow pants and coats, to winter hats, ski mittens and boots—Skihut had it all.


The college girl turned her head to the snowboards.


“Just because the store is Skihut, doesn't mean we don't sell other winter equipment,? said assistant Skihut manager `Lucky.' “These days, the name `ski' is also associated with snow boards.?


Skihut does not only contain downhill skis and snowboards, but other outdoor equipment.


“During the winter months, we rent out snowshoes and cross-country skis,? Lucky said.


According to Lucky, Skihut's winter months start in November around Thanksgiving and end in April, just when the summer season starts.


“We are busy year-round,? Lucky said. “We rent and sell bicycles too.?


Not completely satisfied, the college student hopped into her 2000 Ford Focus and drove down to Canal Park. She got out of her car, zipped up her gold jacket, threw her purse over her shoulder, stuffed her hands into her pockets, and headed to Midnight Sun Adventure Company.


According to their Web site, Midnight Sun Adventure Company is a retail store and full-service guiding adventures store, whose mission is “to get you active in the outdoors safely, comfortably and knowledgeably.?


The college student walked along the solid, snow-covered path and abruptly stopped to read the sign: “Midnight Sun Adventure Company is out of business. Thank you all!?


The once active building where people could rent out or purchase equipment—skis, kayaks, snowshoes, rock climbing and running—closed its doors on Dec. 17, 2007.


Completely shocked at her discovery, the college student turned around and headed back up the path towards the little shops that line the right side of Canal Park. She noticed the huge red and white `SALE' sign hanging above the Duluth Pack store and entered.

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The outdoor-lover's heaven was right before the college student's eyes: canoes, leather products, packs, shoulder bags, camping equipment, clothing and much more.


“We don't sell a lot of canoes or snowshoes,? said one employee of the store, Heather Grundhofer. “We have had these four canoes hanging above for quite some time.?


Grundhofer said that their store sells a lot of Smartwool and Merino clothing.


“A lot of people who enjoy being outdoors love these two brands because they are soft and keep you warm in the winter,? Grundhofer said. “These brands also have outdoor clothing that keep people cool during those hot days and are machine washable, which is always nice.?


Grundhofer added that the Duluth packs also sell particularly well.


“Not only are the packs for portaging hot items, but also duffel bags, business and portfolio bags, purses and back packs,? said Grundhofer.


The college student walked up the stairs to where the majority of the clothing was located.


“Our hottest seller is The North Face merchandise,? said another employee, Eric Johnson. “We also sell Patagonia, which is another brand that is more for the environment, because of what the clothes are made out of, but people want North Face.?


The North Face ranges from fleeces to vests, jackets, pants, footwear and almost anything else imaginable for the outdoor or brand name lover, according to the web site.


The college student left Canal Park, got back into her Focus, and drove home with a sense of relief that Duluth does have everything for the outdoor lover— whether rain or shine, snow or sun.


Sara Jochems is at joch0019@d.umn.edu