Branded Country Wear in Peoria thrives with expansion and its store dog

PEORIA — Business is good for Branded Country Wear, a North Sheridan Road retailer that recently expanded its retail space.

Seth and Stacey Landwehr first opened the store in 2014 in the Metro Center on North University Street. Erin Bourscheidt joined the company in 2017 before taking it over entirely in 2021. Her business partners were increasingly busy with their children’s education and other careers, she explained.

“Life has unfolded for them,” explained Bourscheidt.

The business moved into the strip mall that currently houses it in 2017, before moving to a larger adjacent space in the same building. At the end of August, the company returned to its old space, a change which Bourscheidt said made room for “more of everything”.

While a two-month shutdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted business, Bourscheidt said Branded Western Wear was able to quickly rebound, thanks to what it says has been a steady increase in demand that has not been hampered by the pandemic. Customers interested in traditional rural pursuits knew where to go when the store doors reopened.

“It was person after person coming through the door saying, ‘Hey, we bought goats,’ or ‘my kids are starting to show cattle,'” she said. “That kind of farming hobby never stopped. They grew exponentially and so that was really good for us because that’s our customer.”

The TV show “Yellowstone“, which premiered in 2018 and is set to air its fifth season later this year. The show’s costumes and dramatic depiction of Montana ranch life attracted more than a few customers, Bourscheidt said.

“People are having western-themed weddings,” she said. “We’ve had a few cowboy-themed birthday parties and the amount of traffic coming in is insane.”

Visitors to the store are greeted by Josie, Bourscheidt’s 15 month old Australian Shepherd mix. His former canine companion, a Bernese mountain dog, had become a staple of the store, so much so that following his death in 2020, Bourscheidt had to break the news to a string of expecting customers. Josie took over the role of shop dog in 2021 and has been popular with customers.

“I think as long as I’m here, I probably should have a dog in the store,” Bourscheidt said.

Bourscheidt plans to hold an official grand opening for the new store space in early October, an event that will feature sales and giveaways.