thegarlicpressThe Garlic Press History

The Garlic Press opened in 1974 as a cookware specialty store in a small space in downtown Normal, IL. In 1976 Dorothy Bushnell took over the business full time. In 1978 the store began to offer cooking classes in a nearby church kitchen. The classes provided a place to learn about cooking, but also a place to gather with friends and enjoy the passion of good food. The Garlic Press was the first downstate store to offer the revolutionary Cuisinart Food Processor. Near the same time in the 1970’s, the first issues of the Garlic Press Newsletter went to print to publicize the cooking classes, new products and events. The newsletter is still written, edited and laid-out by us (and still printed on the same “vintage” yellow paper stock from the 1970’s).

In 1981, the Garlic Press moved a few doors down the street to its present location, more than tripling the space. At that time we added fresh whole bean coffee, a small food section and Bridal Registry to the mix. When local jewelry artist Linda Isaccson Healy decided to give up her retail business a jewelry section was added, dedicated largely to handcrafted jewelry. Several years later we introduced FLAX, Cut Loose, and Comfy USA to our growing apparel lines.

In 1996, we took another big step and gave up storeroom space and created a Cooking Class Kitchen within the store.

In 2000, Dorothy was delighted to bring 2 partners into the business: long time employees Sarah Bushnell McManus, and Pam Locsin. Their diverse talents and enthusiasm have added immensely to the Garlic Press.

2005 to 2017 was our biggest expansion as we opened our Market café in the adjoined building. Each week we served made-from-scratch dishes using fresh seasonal and local ingredients when possible. We also specialized on a variety of baked goods, coffees, and teas.  

2017 marches on as we continue to update and change The Garlic Press for the next generation. We’ll be preparing for a new adventure in our Market Café space so keep your eyes and ears open as we get closer to our another Grand Opening in January of 2018