There are stores that do a good job catering to a specific demo. And then there are stores that do their thing so well, you can't help but want to do it. Even if it's camping. Hi, I'm Ali. And I love Midwest Mountaineering. It's just so homey and welcoming. It feels cozy, and yet, the assortment runs deep, including national brands and interesting locals with a story. One room leads to another, and then another, filled with boats and skis and socks and jackets and packs and strange hooks and cords and carrying cases, and all the gear you never knew you needed to enjoy the great outdoors. At least, I didn't. I walked in last week (in heels), looking for a functional bag to use as a prop in a photo shoot tomorrow. I had my pick: Patagonia messenger bag in orange, Duluth Pack red and black plaid, Jansport backpacks in a rainbow of cool color combos I've never seen at department stores. (Many of them are currently 20 percent off - just in time for back to school!) The help is not only friendly but inspirational: The manager I worked with is headed to Haiti soon on a volunteer mission to bring supplies...much like what you can buy at Midwest Mountaineering. More to love: Thrifty Outfitters, a store within the store, offers great deals on closeouts, factory seconds and used apparel and gear from top-rate brands.