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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 a 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 longboarding 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.
A terror on the Onewheel and 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, and 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 knowledgeable 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 products 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.
Do not let this so-called “quiet” one fool you. Down to earth and undoubtedly dynamic, as our primary Bookkeeper; An aspiring accountant, Epifhany ensures that Bushwhacker is up to date when it comes to finances.
Epifhany’s true passion, however, resides in yoga and ayurvedic medicine. Currently, in the process of becoming a certified vinyasa and pole yoga teacher, she discovered her calling back in 2019 and has been cultivating her practice since. She firmly believes in maintaining the organic traditions of yoga in addition to creating accessibility for all.
But besides her love for the yogic sciences, you can catch Epifhany engaging in hiking, photography, gardening, writing, cooking, shopping for produce at the local farmers market, jamming to her favorite tunes at a concert, or from the comfort of her own home, and more! She is always up for adventure and making connections with people. There is no doubt that her mission is simply to bring joy and laughter to those who come her way! Epifhany loves Bushwhacker for a number of reasons: the ability to provide a service that helps the store while strengthening her accounting skills, her down-to-earth and authentic co-workers, a work environment that is work-fun balanced, and all the outdoor adventure opportunities that come with being a Bushwhacker employee!