Outside Business Journal

The Innovation Project: Midwest Mountaineering

In the 6th episode of The Innovation Project, Midwest Mountaineering founder Rod Johnson explains how his need for cheap gear led to Minneapolis' first outdoor shop

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Rod Johnson started Midwest Mountaineering, in Minneapolis, 46 years ago in his kitchen.

He was “poor as a church mouse,” he says, and used his father’s business letterhead to buy gear at wholesale prices and sell it to his friends.

There weren’t any outdoor stores in Minneapolis at the time, and Johnson decided to put up a storefront after taking a low-budget trip around the world and deciding he wanted to do something big.

“I think the fact that we’re so passionate about the outdoors is very visible to our customers,” Johnson says in Epsiode Six of The Innovation Project. “They’re still going to buy some stuff at a big box store, or online, because it’s convenient, but they love coming into Midwest Mountaineering, because get to talk to the employees.”

The store’s motto is “Ask us, we’ve been there.” And its mission statement is “Sharing passion for the outdoors.”

“My personal mission,” Johnson says, “kind of my religion, is getting people active outdoors.”


This nine-part series was produced in partnership with Mountain Hardwear.

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