Happy Birthday to the Bean!
L.L. Bean was founded in Freeport, Maine in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean. He started a mail-order business to sell his waterproof boots to hunters and fisherman. To this day the boot remains a staple of the company’s outdoor image (and flagship store). Although virtually all of the clothing, and the vast majority of other products, are now imported, the iconic Bean Boots and Maine Hunting Shoes are still manufactured in Brunswick, Maine.
L.L.Bean opened its flagship store in 1917 and its first outlet store in North Conway, NH in 1988. There are now 33 retail and outlet stores in 10 states. Over the last 100 years, the company has branched out not only to variations on its boots but to other outdoor equipment such as backpacks and tents, as well as producing a full line of clothing, which is now its bread and butter. Chain Store Guide’s database of Apparel Specialty Stores estimates between 50 and 60 percent of L.L. Bean’s sales each year comes from apparel products and another 15 to 20 percent from footwear.
L.L. Bean remains a staple of the Southern Maine coast. I remember growing up there, we went to concerts on the lawn, played hide and seek in the 24-hour store and of course got a new L.L. bean backpack every school year (with our monogrammed initials.) Although I’ve moved to the real south, my family (and millions of others) still swear by the boots, sheets, pajamas and of course outdoor equipment sold by L.L. Bean. Cheers to another 100 years.