L.L.Bean

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For this company's founder, see Leon Leonwood Bean.

Coordinates: 43°50′58″N 70°6′32″W / 43.84944°N 70.10889°W / 43.84944; -70.10889

L.L.Bean, Inc.
Type Private
Industry Retail
Founded 1912 (1912)
Founders Leon Leonwood Bean
Headquarters 15 Casco Street
Freeport, Maine,
United States
Number of locations 30 stores[1]
Area served Worldwide
Key people Leon Gorman
(Chairman)
Christopher McCormick
(President and CEO)
Products Clothing and outdoor equipment
Revenue Increase US$ 1.52 billion (FY 2012)[2]
Employees 5,500 (2010)[2]
Website www.llbean.com

L.L.Bean, Inc.,[3] branded as L.L.Bean, is an American privately held mail-order, online, and retail company founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean and currently based in Freeport, Maine, United States. It specializes in clothing and outdoor recreation equipment. Its annual sales were USD $1.52 billion in 2012.[2]

Company history[edit]

L.L.Bean in Yonkers, NY

The company L.L.Bean was founded in 1912 by its namesake, avid hunter and fisherman Leon Leonwood Bean in Freeport, Maine. L.L.Bean, Inc. is a leading multichannel merchant of quality outdoor gear and apparel. The company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe (aka L.L.Bean Boot). Bean had developed a waterproof boot (a combination of lightweight leather uppers and rubber bottoms) that he sold to hunters. He obtained a list of nonresident Maine hunting license holders, prepared a descriptive mail order circular, set up a shop in his brother's basement in Freeport, Maine, and started a nationwide mail order business. By 1912, he was selling the "Bean Boot", or Maine Hunting Shoe, through a four-page mail-order catalog, and the boot remains a staple of the company's outdoor image. Defects in the initial design led to 90% of the original production run being returned: Bean made good on his money-back guarantee, corrected the design, and continued selling them.[1]

While its business has grown over the years, L.L.Bean still upholds the values of its founder, including his dedication to quality, customer service and a love of the outdoors. L.L.Bean products are rigorously tested, guaranteed to last and always shipped free. In the past five years, L.L.Bean has donated over $6 million toward conservation and land stewardship. The 220,000 sq. ft. L.L.Bean retail store campus in Freeport, ME, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and welcomes more than 3 million visitors every year. A privately held company, L.L.Bean does not publicly disclose financials.

Leon L. Bean died on February 5, 1967, in Pompano Beach, Florida. He is buried in Freeport's Webster Cemetery.[4] The company passed into the directorship of Bean's grandson, Leon Gorman, from that time until 2001, when Gorman decided to take the position of Chairman, leaving the position of CEO to Christopher McCormick, the first non-family member to assume the title.[5] On May 19, 2013 Shawn Gorman, 47, a great-grandson of the company’s founder, was elected L.L.Bean’s chairman. Leon Gorman has been named chairman emeritus and remains a member of the family-controlled board.

The original Freeport store had the appearance of an antique factory, with the business on the second floor, reached only by climbing a long central flight of stairs. For many years, the hallway of the staircase was a bulletin board messaging service used by hunters "from away" to advise their fellow hunters of information about their arrival, needs, and wants for the camp. Fellow hunters would have a niche in the stairway where their friends would put notes, and the custom lasted many years. The new showrooms removed the old, and the store is open 24/7. There is now a "campus" layout with different departments in separate buildings.

Product line[edit]

Since its inception, the company has branched out not only to variations on its boots but to other outdoor equipment such as firearms, backpacks, tents, as well as producing a full line of clothing, which is now its mainstay.

L.L.Bean is a global company sourcing its products from the U.S. and across the globe. It is one of the last multi-channel merchants to still own and operate a manufacturing facility in the United States. Its Brunswick, Maine factory employs more than 450 people who hand-craft the company's iconic products such as the Maine Hunting Shoe, L.L.Bean Boot, Boat and Totes, dog beds, leather goods and backpacks.

In 2000, L.L.Bean formed a contract with Subaru, making L.L.Bean the official outfitter of Subaru, spawning an "L.L.Bean edition" Subaru Outback and Forester for the USA market. The L.L.Bean trim levels on American Subaru vehicles are the top-spec versions, with leather and wood trimmed interiors and all available options offered as standard equipment. This relationship with Subaru ended June 28, 2008.

In 2010, L.L.Bean established a more stylish sub-brand known as L.L.Bean Signature. The Signature line is a modern interpretation of L.L.Bean classics featuring a more modern fit.

Branches[edit]

L.L.Bean retail store in Freeport, Maine, featuring a giant boot sculpture
An L.L.Bean store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at Ross Park Mall.

Along with a number of retail and outlet ("factory") stores, the company maintains its flagship store on Main Street in Freeport. This branch, originally opened in 1917, has been open 24 hours a day since 1951, with the exception of two Sundays in 1962 when Maine changed its blue laws; a town vote reinstated the store's open-door policy.[6] The flagship also closed to honor the death of President Kennedy, as well as that of Bean himself.

L.L.Bean opened its first Outlet store in North Conway, New Hampshire in 1988.

Retail and outlet stores[edit]

Outdoor Discovery Schools[edit]

L.L.Bean has education programs connected to many of its retail outlets to support the outdoor interests of its customers. Customers can sign up to participate in a number of outdoor activities: all equipment and instruction are provided. Activities include archery, clay shooting, fly casting, and sea kayaking. More advanced classes are conducted as well, and must be reserved in advance. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are available December to March. All of the other retail stores (there are now 20 total outside of Maine) offer fly casting and kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding .[8]

Competitors[edit]

The major competitors for its outdoor gear line include Columbia Sportswear, Patagonia, Helly Hansen, The North Face, Orvis, REI, Timberland and many other sporting goods retailers in the United States.

L.L.Bean's clothing line faces a rather different set of competitors. There, they compete with staples such as J.Crew, Lands' End, Barbour, Orvis, Brooks Brothers, Gant, Lacoste, Nautica, Ralph Lauren Corporation, Eddie Bauer, Banana Republic and many others.

In popular culture[edit]

L.L.Bean shoe car (Bootmobile) in Freeport, Maine, July 7, 2012
  • Broadway musicals Rent (1995) and Grey Gardens (2006) both reference L.L.Bean in song lyrics. In Rent it can be heard in the song "Christmas Bells" and "The Revolutionary Costume for Today" from Grey Gardens.
  • The Official Preppy Handbook, an ironic description of upper-class and upper-middle-class life in America, describes L.L.Bean as "nothing less than Prep mecca."
  • In the movie Beetlejuice, Otho when seeing one of the rooms in the house says "deliver me from LL.Bean"
  • The 1990 Paul Rudnick novel, I'll Take It was a humorous tale of a Long Island mother taking some of her children on a Fall shopping trip through New England with L.L.Bean being the final destination. As the plot unfolds, the mother divulges to her son that she is actually planning to rob L.L.Bean in order to update her and her husband's furniture in their retirement.
  • In Gossip Girl season 1 episode All About My Brother young social climber Jenny Humphrey insults his brother Dan (and his choice of pants) while trying to defend his affluent boyfriend: "I understand that you're threatened by him, because clearly he's everything you wanna be. He's good-looking and worldly, a legacy at Dartmouth. But even you should know that jealousy clashes with L.L.Bean pants."
  • In the film Best in Show (film), the preppy, neurotic couple Meg and Hamilton Swan laud the way shopping at L.L.Bean lets them buy clothes without actually interacting with other people.
  • The blog Your LL Bean Boyfriend features the male models of the LL Bean Catalog pared with captions that the perfect boyfriend might say.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "L.L.Bean - Our Story". L.L.Bean. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "L.L.Bean 2013 Company Fact Sheet". L.L.Bean. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ "L.L. Bean, Inc.: Private Company Information". Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  4. ^ Rogak, Lisa (2004), Stones and Bones of New England: A guide to unusual, historic, and otherwise notable cemeteries, Globe Pequat ISBN 0-7627-3000-5
  5. ^ "Visit the L.L. Bean Retail Store or Outlet Near You". L.L.Bean. Retrieved October 14, 2014. 
  6. ^ "95th Anniversary Timeline". L.L.Bean. p. 1962. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  7. ^ a b c d http://blog.llbean.com/2014/09/three-new-stores-in-three-weeks-l-l-bean-arrives-in-vermont-minnesota-and-colorado/
  8. ^ Walk On Adventures at LLBean.com
  9. ^ Murphy, Edward. "Swooning over ‘Your LL Bean Boyfriend’". Portland Press Harold. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 

Notes[edit]

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