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Best Sporting-Goods Store 

MidAmerica Sailing and Kayak

There's no climbing wall or vast selection of running shoes at MidAmerica Sailing and Kayak. The four Catalina cabin cruisers parked in its lot might seem out of place just off Interstate 35 and Johnson Drive, just about as far from an ocean as a person in the States can get. But here's a news flash for Midwesterners who think that a day at the lake is about water-skiing, chugging around on a pontoon or otherwise letting a motor propel your blubbery butt: There's a new kind of boating in town. It uses no gas, but it does require a minimum of skill. MidAmerica Sailing and Kayak opened in April, its tiny cinder-block storefront packed with kayaks, gear, apparel and nautical knickknacks; in the back is a showroom boasting gorgeous Hobie catamarans ranging from the single-sailed beginner's Bravo to majestic, high-performance 16-footers. Store manager Lauren Jeppson knows her products and understands the need to get out on the water. More and more people are catching the wind — Jeppson says business has been brisk. Think you can navigate the Missouri River with a single paddle and some pedals? Or spend an afternoon speeding around Smithville Lake using two metal poles, a couple of Dacron sheets and a board? Then just do it, skipper.

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