Let's admit it: Except for about four months of the year, Minnesota is all about winter. And as the largest retailer of cross-country ski gear in North America, Gear West specializes in equipping you to thrive in our longest season. Jan Guenther, the shop's owner, is one of the best athletes in the region and regularly wins cross-country events in her age group. She's made a special effort to sponsor ski events geared toward women, and she teaches free classes on ski wax technique. Gear West is packed with clothing designed to ward off frostbite, and the salespeople all ski and know what they're talking about. Not into skiing? The shop has a huge area dedicated to biking, and it also outfits for running and soccer.