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Come in the store to meet the experts in their unnatural habitat. On course. Off-road. Or in the middle of a downhill adventure. We've used the equipment and outdoor gear we stock on the shelves. And we can tell you about it.
At Bushwhacker, we sell outdoor gear to two different types of people — those who don't know where to start, and those who never know when to stop. No matter which group you fit into, you'll find the resources you need here to improve your performance, and share your passion for the great outdoors.
With our roots in backpacking and hiking, the store has changed a lot, since cleats and climbing rope were among its top sellers. Today, Bushwhacker is one of the area's largest bike shops, with a broad assortment of kayaks, clothing, backpacks, and other outdoor gear that changes with every season. But for all those who've walked through the doors of this local Peoria store, it continues to be something more.
For the beginner, it's the starting point, where advice is free, and questions are always encouraged. And for the pros, it's the connecting point — the one place where they return time and time again to share their passion for sport. And perhaps more than anything, it's that atmosphere of collective exploration that keeps Rich invested after 50 years of retail. In fact, 2021 is Bushwhacker's 50th anniversary. "You can't package that sort of vibe. That's real. That's us." And that's why Bushwhacker continues to be one of Illinois' greatest original brands.
The owner of Bushwhacker started working at the original store in Champaign in 1974. A math nerd turned rock climber. Rich quickly decided that exploring all things outdoors was a lot more interesting than key punching old-style IBM cards in the computer lab. He opened the Peoria store at Main and University in 1976.
The Champaign and Springfield stores were gone by 1984, victims of changing demographics and unchanged business models based largely on backpacking and cross-country skiing. Rich, on the other hand, explored new opportunities in skateboards, windsurfing, downhill skis, patio furniture and bicycling.
Perhaps not surprisingly, his favorite part of the store is all of it. When he’s not at the store or playing tournament bridge, you’re likely to find him at home in Peoria, wearing his favorite 20-year-old North Face fleece.
Our trusty General Manager and Peoria area native, leads our team to success on the daily! Bushwhacker is the second outfitter Ann has managed and purchased for. She loves her job because she does all the sports and has the experience to share the stories that back the products she loves to sell.
While managing an outfitter and bike shop in Santa Barbara, California, Ann was a sponsored downhill mountain bike rider. She has also spent many a night under the stars after a long day on the trail and most recently combined her passion for teaching yoga and paddling SUP by getting certified to teach stand up paddle board yoga. Ann loves working at Bushwhacker because of the amazing, kind and fun outdoor loving staff she gets to work with as well as supporting and hearing feedback from the customers and community Bushwhacker has supported for over 50 years!
Although she’d rather be outside hiking, biking, camping, backpacking, paddling, rock climbing, skiing, gardening, dog walking, yogaing or enjoying a cold beverage while watching live music, the second best thing is knowing we support this community and our employees in doing all those things and the things they love better, safely and with smiles on their faces.
Heads up our BushKids section, loooooves everything shoe, and enjoys decking out her children in the best gear out there. You can find Jessica at a concert any weekend in the summer! She loves canoeing, camping and riding bikes with her kiddos. Jessica loves working at Bushwhacker for the people that come in and the conversation that comes with them, as well as the lighthearted fun we all have behind the scenes here at the store.
Bio coming soon!
Our go to patio furniture guy and board guru! Matt can answer any of your questions about our poly furniture and builds a lot of it. He’s passionate about long boarding and has built quite a few of his own. Matt looks forward to learning more about backpacking and overnight trekking. He enjoys how much he’s learned about all the gear here at Bushwhacker.
Our wildlife researcher, just successfully defended her thesis on habitat remediation. She’s got all the knowledge backed with experience and heavy use about the appropriateness of the correct apparel, footwear and protective gear! Claire loves her coworkers, the upbeat atmosphere and getting to enjoy the great outdoors with them.
Sam sold four of his own bicycles in one year. This is totally out of character - and has left him with only a tandem, a tricycle, a fixed-gear, two road bikes, a gravel bike, an electric bike, a two-speed machine from 1964, and whatever he’s bolting together next.
He’s been doing this for a while. For instance, he remembers unboxing Specialized’s first mountain bike. Imagine his glee at finding Mafac cantilever brakes, a TA crankset and Tommaselli brake levers. Then imagine him wondering whether mountain bikes would ever catch on in flat-land Illinois. Yep, he was that young. Once.
It’s not all about the past. (Ask him about his haiku blog, with 1,000 entries and counting after three years.) But there’s quite a bit of the past to digest, like the time he worked at a bicycle shop smaller than Bushwhacker’s shoe room, or, more to the point, the time he discovered the limit to a Peoria’s spaghetti house’s all-you-can-eat special (eight plates).
A terror on the Onewheel, holds down our cycling sales floor! He can get you on the right bike in your budget any day of the week. He loves the great product selection and the camaraderie with his coworkers here at Bushwhacker.
Not just a bike mechanic, but trained up this winter to take on our ski department as a technician. Wyatt has flourished in his mechanical skills with training and experience and can be found in full wheelie on his post tune-up test rides through the parking lot. Wyatt loves his job and getting to do cool things here at Bushwhacker like working on bikes and skis and the opportunity to learn about stuff like wrenching, skiing and snowboarding from getting real experience!
Heads up our receiving department. All that cool gear out on our sales floor goes through the careful hands of Cody first at the receiving desk in the back of the house. Cody enjoys hiking with friends, swimming, playing basketball and tennis. He loves learning about all the different parts of the outdoor industry he didn’t know about before working here. He feels at home at Bushwhacker with how friendly and knowledgable his coworkers are.
Our lovable part time weekend guy! Jake is an elementary school PE teacher and spends his weekends and summers here at the store. He loves promoting any outdoor activities, and the physical and mental wealth that comes with the great outdoors. He helps build furniture and guides customers to the right gear on the sales floor. He spends a lot of his free time loving on his dogs and enjoying great music. Jake loves having a job that allows him to serve his community and provide the knowledge to help people get outside.
Does it all! He can help you mount a rack on your car, help you find a product in the store or help us keep the store organized and clean. He’s a machine putting out product and sweeps the store atop the Onewheel at night. Cole loves working at Bushwhacker because of his coworkers, the fact he gets to work on bikes, the dogs that come into the store and the good vibe a local business puts out.
One of our very experienced and excellent mechanics takes care of some of our more complicated cycling repairs to ensure top quality service. Aaron has a passion for classic bikes and could talk components for hours. Aaron is an accomplished musician and shares his time between us and his many gigs from Peoria to Colorado to the Virgin Islands! Aaron loves working at Bushwhacker because he can back the attention to detail mirrored in his coworkers in our service department and feed his passion for bikes.