It began in 1947 with Leo and Anne Weisel, who started Champaign Surplus just after World War II as an Army-Navy Surplus Store. In 1981, Ira and Lynn Wachtel (son-in-law and daughter) entered the business, retaining the surplus inventory while turning the store into the premier outdoor outfitter in Central Illinois. In January of 2010, Dan and Shira Epstein (Leo and Anne’s grandson-in-law and granddaughter) signed on as generation three, committed to continuing the tradition of quality gear and service, while adding an e-commerce website and eventually changing the name of the business to Champaign Outdoors.


We are a ma-and-pa kind of place, with an informed, helpful staff and a welcoming, attentive smile for our customers. We will listen carefully as you tell us where you’re headed and what your needs are, and then help you find just the right gear. We appreciate the opportunity to help you, and love knowing that we made your trip, your adventure or your day exciting, comfortable and enjoyable. 

Champaign Surplus 3 Generatios of Owners

Timeline Story of our History


Leo and Anne Weisel open an appliance store in downtown Champaign, at 115 South Neil Street, just one mile from the University of Illinois campus.

Champaign Outdoors is more than our name and the products we sell. We are family and community. Champaign Outdoors is three generations, with a shared vision of treating our customers as our friends – offering quality merchandise, unequaled personal service and the highest level of expertise.