Look at the Jamis Dakota Sport MSRP $1175
Possibly the Durango or Dakota 29'ers instead of the 26'ers.
Here is a good deal on a Reynolds 631 Dragon
I know these aren't at your "local sports store", but good deals.
I'm not pimping Jamis b/c I ride one. I just know a bit about them and knew where a deal or two would be.
You could find just as good of a deal on some other nice rides if you do some research on the web. Specialized makes some great 29'ers. as well as some awesome 26'er trail bikes.
Go to your local bike shop instead of your "local sports store" and see what they have for closeout stuff.