Text and photo by Sean Miner
(Published here with permission)
For more than two decades, Gear West has made its home in Long Lake, selling all manner of sports equipment. During those years, the physical space that the business has inhabited has changed no fewer than five times.
Nonetheless, Gear West recently held a grand opening its new Adrenaline building, located on the north size of Wayzata Boulevard on the existing Gear West campus.
Gear West isn’t a homely little sports shop — it’s a comprehensive sporting resource that, among many other products, boasts the largest selection of cross country skis and equipment in the United States, according to Gear West’s owner, Jan Guenther. Many of those skis are sold in-house, but many are also sold online.
“Not too many people have the knowledge or inventory to do that,” Guenther said.
The Adrenaline building houses Alpine skis, soccer and lacrosse gear, longboards, paddleboards, and a casual clothing line, which was previously housed and sold in a space farther west in Long Lake, on the south side of Wayzata Boulevard.
The move not only opens up a lot more space for this part of the operation but combines all of the parts of Gear West on the same property. With the main skiing/running building and Adrenaline owned by Guenther, and Gear West Bike and Triathlon owned by Brian Knutson, the combined campus accommodates a huge variety of sporting needs.
In addition to the Nordic skiing equipment and Adrenaline offerings, Gear West sells shoes and other gear for any level of runner, a large selection of bike and triathlon equipment and a variety of other sporting equipment. The businesses also offer several services for these products, from ski maintenance services, like stone-grinding, and hot boxing to maintenance and bike fitting.
It’s not just the selection that makes the Gear West campus such an amenity to sports enthusiasts in Long Lake and beyond, however.
“We offer a lot of value and expertise,” Guenther said. She identified the “tremendous amount of knowledge” that the staff collectively has and readily shares with customers as instrumental to Gear West’s success.
“We’re here to provide what they can’t get at larger stores,” Guenther said. “There’s not a lot of us left.”
Guenther also pointed out that large, online retailers might be able to sell product, but they will “never be there for the community.”
For Gear West, however, those community connections are incredibly
“We’re firmly rooted here,” said Guenther of Gear West’s connection to Long Lake.
She said that much of the traffic for the Adrenaline product is local. Gear West also organizes a wealth of events, mostly group runs and 5K runs.
“We’re a very family-oriented business,” described Guenther. The relaxed atmosphere and products catering to most any age group and level of involvement make the business an exciting place to visit, especially for anyone with an active lifestyle.
Part of the Gear West family comes to the campus each day to wander around on four legs — Guenther brings along her 7-year-old standard poodle, Hershey.
“Her job is to greet people,” Guenther said.
-Posted by Tony Mommsen on Jul 30th 2015