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Coordinates: 43°50′58″N 70°6′32″W / 43.84944°N 70.10889°W / 43.84944; -70.10889
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L.L.Bean, Inc.
Company typePrivately held company
Founded1912 (112 years ago) (1912)
FounderLeon Leonwood Bean
Headquarters15 Casco Street, Freeport, Maine, U.S. 43°50′58″N 70°6′32″W / 43.84944°N 70.10889°W / 43.84944; -70.10889
Number of locations
54 stores[1]
Area served
Key people
Shawn Gorman
Steve Smith
(President & CEO)
RevenueIncrease US$1.59 billion (2019)
Number of employees
6,438 (2021)
Footnotes / references

L.L.Bean is an American privately held retail company that was founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean. The company, headquartered in the place in which it was founded, Freeport, Maine, specializes in clothing and outdoor recreation equipment.

Company history[edit]

Company founder Leon Leonwood Bean (1872–1967)
A former L.L.Bean store at The Mall in Columbia, c. 2009

L.L.Bean was founded in 1912 by its namesake, hunter and fisherman Leon Leonwood Bean, in Freeport, Maine. The company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe, also known as duck boots[5] and later as Bean Boots. Bean had developed a waterproof boot, which is 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 and started a nationwide mail-order business. The company's first hunting boot was sewn by Gertrude Goldrup, whose sewing machine is on display in the flagship store.[6] By 1912, Bean was selling the Bean Boot 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 percent of the original production run being returned: Bean honored his money-back guarantee, corrected the design, and continued selling them.[2]

According to Bean, relating the incorporation of the company, "officers elected Nov. 16, 1934...L.L. Bean, President and Treasurer; Carl Bean Vice President and Assistant Treasurer; Jack Gorman, my son-in-law, Vice President and Clothing Buyer; and Warren Bean, my son, Clerk." Gross sales for his company amounted to $1 million in 1946, increasing to $3.8 million in 1966, $20.4 million in 1974, and $237.4 million in 1984.[7]

The 220,000 sq ft (20,000 m2) L.L.Bean retail store campus in Freeport, Maine, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.[8]

As of February 26, 2024, L.L.Bean is discontinuing mail orders, shifting business entirely to online and telephone orders.


After Leon L. Bean's death in 1967,[9] 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. Christopher McCormick assumed the role of CEO, the first non-family member to assume the title.[10] On May 19, 2013, Shawn Gorman, 47, a great-grandson of the company's founder, was elected L.L.Bean's chairman. The company announced a US$125,000 donation to a new scholarship fund upon Leon Gorman's death in 2015, representing about 2.5 years of tuition at Bowdoin College, Gorman's alma mater.[11]

Stephen Smith was named chief executive officer (CEO) in November 2015, the first time in the company's 103-year history that a CEO had been hired from outside the company.[12]

List of chairmen[edit]

  1. Leon Gorman (2001–2013)
  2. Shawn Gorman (since May 2013)

List of CEOs[edit]

  1. Leon L. Bean (1912–1967)
  2. Leon Gorman (1967–2001)
  3. Christopher McCormick (2001–2015); first non-family CEO
  4. Stephen Smith (since November 2015)

Product line[edit]

The company sells a variety of hiking, weather, and other utility boots, along with other outdoor equipment such as firearms, backpacks, and tents, and produces a full line of clothing, which is now its mainstay.[timeframe?][citation needed]

L.L.Bean sources its products from the US and across the globe. As of 2016, its factory in Brunswick, Maine, employed more than 450 people who made the company's products by hand, such as the Maine Hunting Shoe, L.L.Bean Boot, Boat and Totes, dog beds, leather goods, and backpacks.[13]

In 2000, L.L.Bean partnered with Japanese automaker Subaru, making L.L.Bean the official outfitter of Subaru, spawning the L.L.Bean edition Subaru Outback and Subaru Forester for the US market.[14] The L.L.Bean trim levels were top-spec versions, with most available options included as standard equipment. This relationship with Subaru ended June 28, 2008.[15]

In 2010, L.L.Bean created a contemporary sub-brand called L.L.Bean Signature. The Signature line is a modern interpretation of L.L.Bean's previous products with modern fits.[16]

Retail stores[edit]

An L.L.Bean store at Ross Park Mall in Pittsburgh
Rockapella performs at the L.L.Bean Summer Concert Series in July 2003
Bust of Leon Leonwood Bean outside flagship store

Along with a number of retail and outlet stores, the company maintains its flagship store on Main Street in Freeport. This branch, originally opened in 1917, remained open continuously, 24 hours a day, between 1951 and 1962, when Maine changed its blue laws; a town vote later reinstated the store's open-door policy.[17] The flagship has closed to honor the death of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and the deaths of founder Leon L. Bean in 1967 and his grandson Leon Gorman in 2015.[18] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, all L.L.Bean stores were closed indefinitely[19] starting on March 17, 2020, at midnight. It was the first time it had ever closed for more than 24 hours.[20] The company began to reopen stores in May 2020.[21]

L.L.Bean has invested heavily in activities for both visitors and residents in Freeport, including its Outdoor Discovery Schools, Christmas light displays, and its Summer Concert Series, which has attracted artists such as Grace Potter, Lake Street Dive, Edwin McCain, Great Big Sea, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Rockapella.[citation needed]

L.L.Bean opened its first outlet store in North Conway, New Hampshire, in 1988. The company operates 30 retail stores and 10 factory outlets in the US, and 25 retail stores in Japan, in addition to its catalog and online sales operations.[timeframe?][citation needed]

The L.L.Bean Bootmobile travels the United States and serves as a mobile store during its college tour with a limited selection of products.[citation needed]

In March 2018, L.L.Bean opened its first urban location in Boston's Seaport District. The 8,600-square-foot (800 m2) store will be the model for further expansion in urban areas and carry a selection of merchandise selected to fit the surrounding community.[22]

In November 2019, it was announced that L.L.Bean will be launching in the UK.[23]

Returns policy[edit]

From its founding, L.L.Bean had an unlimited return policy, which allowed customers to return items with which they were dissatisfied at any time, even without a purchase receipt. On February 9, 2018, the company announced it would be limiting returns to within one year of purchase, and only with a receipt or other proof of purchase.[24] L.L.Bean said that some customers had been abusing the policy by returning items that had been purchased from yard sales and third parties or used the policy as a lifetime replacement program for items with normal wear and tear.[25] L.L.Bean has also stated it reserves the right to deny returns to those who regularly return items.[26]

International expansion[edit]

L.L. Bean has ventured into international markets notably Japan and Canada, starting with Japan in 1976 with L.L. Bean bags debuting at American Life Shop BEAMS in Tokyo's Harajuku district in 1976. It opened its first outlet in Japan in November 1992, and then expanding to 28 stores in the country by November 2018.[27] The company then ventured into the Canadian market, launching an e-commerce site in 2018 under licensing by Toronto-based Jaytex Group and expansion directed under Brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap, and opening its first outlet in 2019 in Oakville, Ontario, with at least eight stores opened by the end of 2021 with plans to operate at least 20 more.

In 2020, the company expanded its outlets in Ontario, including one at Ottawa's Train Yards, one at the Georgian Mall in Barrie, and one at Vaughan Mills.[28][29][30]

In 2021, the company opened outlets at Toronto's Shops at Don Mills, one at Halifax, Nova Scotia's Dartmouth Crossing, two in British Columbia, one in Victoria's Mayfair Mall and one at Burnaby's The Amazing Brentwood, one at Calgary, Alberta's Deerfoot Meadows retail centre. 2022 saw the Ontario openings of one at Kitchener's The Boardwalk, Kingston's Cataraqui Mall, and one at Moncton, New Brunswick's Champlain Place, Niagara Falls' Canada One and Edmonton, Alberta's West Edmonton Mall.[31]

Political controversy[edit]

In January 2017, a group of political activists called for a boycott against the company after it was disclosed that Linda Bean, one of the descendants of founder Leon Leonwood Bean who sits on the board of directors, had donated US$60,000 to a political action committee that supported Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.[32][33] There were assertions that the contribution may be illegal.[34] Trump posted on Twitter, in support of Linda Bean after calls for the boycott, "Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean."[35][36] The company said it had not donated to Trump, nor have any of the other directors or any of the 50 other Bean heirs.[37][38][39][40][41] It was unclear if the publicity hurt business, since sales were flat prior and for a second consecutive year in 2016.[42][43]

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 other retail stores offer fly casting and kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.[44]

In popular culture[edit]

An L.L.Bean Bootmobile in Freeport, Maine, in July 2012
  • Netflix Show Luke Cage refers to the company's return policy in Season 1, Episode 3. The character Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes (Mahershala Ali) is quoted saying "There ain't no return policy, this ain't L.L.Bean."[45]
  • Netflix Show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt character Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski) jokes that the title character is "a model for L.L.Bean’s performance fleeces" in Season 2 Episode 3.[46]
  • The Official Preppy Handbook, a description of upper-class and upper-middle-class life in America, describes L.L.Bean as "nothing less than Prep mecca."[47]
  • Author Hunter S. Thompson referred to wearing L.L.Bean shorts in a number of his works, most notably during the "Wave Speech" featured in chapter eight of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.[48]
  • 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.[49]
  • The blog Your LL Bean Boyfriend features the male models of the L.L.Bean Catalog paired with captions that the perfect boyfriend might say.[50]
  • In the 1988 film Beetlejuice, while looking around the horribly outdated house the interior designer character Otho exclaims "Ooo. Deliver me from L.L.Bean!"[51]
  • Alfred Gingold's Items from Our Catalog is a parody of the L.L.Bean catalog.[52]
  • In "Nothing to Fear" from the Muppet series Bear in the Big Blue House, Bear receives a skunk clock in the mail from the parody company "L.L. Bear."[53]


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  2. ^ a b "L.L.Bean - Our Story" (PDF). L.L.Bean. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  3. ^ "L.L.Bean 2016 Company Fact Sheet" (PDF). L.L.Bean. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  4. ^ https://www.llbean.com/customerService/aboutLLBean/images/FactSheet_2015.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ "LL Bean's "duck boot" gets a production boost". www.CBSnews.com. August 17, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  6. ^ "About Us - Memories of Maine Magazine - David Branch Editor & Publisher". Memories of Maine Magazine. Retrieved 2024-05-27.
  7. ^ Montgomery, M.R. (1984). In Search of L.L. Bean. New York: New American Library. pp. 32, 38, 171, 243. ISBN 0452257514.
  8. ^ Kane, Colleen. "Now flagship stores come with spas, wine vaults and studios". Fortune.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ "Visit the L.L. Bean Retail Store or Outlet Near You". L.L.Bean. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  11. ^ "L.L. Bean announces donations in Leon Gorman's name - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. October 2015.
  12. ^ Sharp, David. "APNewsBreak: 1st 'outsider' to lead retailer LL Bean". Boston.com.
  13. ^ "L.L. Bean is ramping up boot production as demand surges". pressherald.com. 4 September 2016.
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  15. ^ Knoll, Bob (25 February 2001). "BEHIND THE WHEEL/Subaru Outback H6-3.0 L. L. Bean Edition; A Melting Pot With All-Wheel Drive". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  16. ^ Bennett, Alan. "Bean Boots: when practical becomes fashionable". The Maine Campus. The Maine Campus. Archived from the original on 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  17. ^ "95th Anniversary Timeline". L.L.Bean. p. 1962. Retrieved 2008-08-09.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Rarity for rare leader: L.L. Bean closes stores to remember Leon Gorman". pressherald.com. 13 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Newsroom: COVID-19 Retail Update, March 2020". L.L.Bean. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  20. ^ "Newsroom: COVID-19 update, March 2020". L.L.Bean. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  21. ^ "L.L. Bean Is Reopening Stores — Here's How It Plans to Keep Customers and Employees Safe". Footwear News. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 2020-08-17.
  22. ^ Carlock, Catherine (2018-03-28). "L.L. Bean's first urban store in Boston heralds a new chapter for the storied Maine retailer". Boston Business Journal. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  23. ^ "American outdoor brand L.L.Bean to launch in UK". LDNfashion. 2019-11-26. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  24. ^ "L.L. Bean Changes Lifetime Guarantee to One-Year Return Policy". 9 February 2018.
  25. ^ Nanos, Janelle (2018-02-09). "L.L. Bean dropping its unlimited returns policy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  26. ^ Bhasin, Kim (February 9, 2018). "L.L. Bean Eliminates Its Legendary Lifetime Returns Policy". Yahoo! Finance. Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 2018-02-10. Retrieved 2019-09-13.
  27. ^ Woodard, Colin (2018-11-19). "With boots firmly planted in Japan, L.L. Bean kicks up growth". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  28. ^ "With boots firmly planted in Japan, L.L. Bean kicks up growth". traversing.ca/blog. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  29. ^ "L.L. Bean continues retail expansion in Canada". Retail Insider. 2020-10-22. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  30. ^ "L.L.Bean Announces 4 More Canadian Stores Amid Accelerated Expansion Strategy". Retail and Leisure International. 2021-04-29. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  31. ^ Patterson, Craig (2022-04-21). "L.L.Bean Announces Plans to Open 5 More Canadian Stores". Retail Insider. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  32. ^ "#GrabYourWallet's Anti-Trump Boycott Looks To Expand Its Reach". NPR.
  33. ^ Board, Editorial (12 January 2016). "L.L. Bean boycott would harm the wrong people". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  34. ^ Victor, Daniel (12 January 2017). "Trump Tweet About L. L. Bean Underscores Potential Danger for Brands". The New York Times.
  35. ^ Isidore, Chris (12 January 2017). "Trump: Shop LL Bean, don't boycott it".
  36. ^ "Amid calls for L.L. Bean boycott, Trump tweets support for company". CBS News. 12 January 2017.
  37. ^ Woolhouse, Megan (2017-01-09). "L.L. Bean pleads: Don't boycott us over Trump donation". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  38. ^ Anderson, L.V. (12 January 2017). "Liberals, Don't Let Donald Trump Tarnish L.L. Bean's Sterling Brand Reputation". Slate. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  39. ^ "Support for Donald Trump sparks calls for boycott on L.L.Bean". NBC News. 12 January 2017.
  40. ^ "Politics, profits and the president at L.L. Bean - The Boston Globe". The Boston Globe.
  41. ^ Ang, Kristiano (14 January 2017). "Should consumers boycott L.L. Bean over a political donation?". MarketWatch.
  42. ^ "L.L. Bean weathers boycott, OKs bonuses".
  43. ^ "L.L. Bean's sales level in 2016 as retailer weathers boycott". 17 March 2017.
  44. ^ Walk On Adventures at LLBean.com
  45. ^ Thomas, Leah (5 October 2016). "21 Pop Culture References In 'Luke Cage' That Prove Its Marvel's Quippiest Show Yet". bustle.com.
  46. ^ "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Recap: The Geisha Plot". vulture.com. 15 April 2016.
  47. ^ Thomas, June (1 September 2010). "Saved by Corduroy". Slate.
  48. ^ "A quote from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". www.goodreads.com.
  49. ^ Isaacs, Susan (1989-06-11). "L.L. Bean, This is a Stickup". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  50. ^ Murphy, Edward (6 December 2012). "Swooning over 'Your LL Bean Boyfriend'". Portland Press Harold. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  51. ^ Steve Spears (September 7, 2010). "Day-oh-no: Otho from 'Beetlejuice' dies at 58". Stuck in the 80s. Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on 21 September 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  52. ^ "Woodman, Spare That Flea: Alfred Gingold Takes a Shot at a Sitting Duck, L.L. Bean". People. 10 January 1983. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  53. ^ "Bear in the Big Blue House Season 3". ShareTV. Retrieved April 27, 2022.

General and cited references[edit]

External links[edit]