L.L.Bean Journal

LL Bean Blog

 

After just three days of being a Maine transplant - I knew that my Bean Blog would have to become a catch-all for all things Maine, chronicled through the eyes of a “Big City” couple. Well, we have never lived in downtown Manhattan or Tokyo, but Pam and I have lived in a decent sampling of mid/large cities to contrast against our new home who’s slogan is “The way life should be” 
Be forewarned - I have no idea how this page will be sorted in its final form... just trying to get interesting doings down before I forget from old age. If you’re not from Maine, some of the niceties found in the people seem Mayberry-esk and makes you feel like you grew up in Compton. Am I exaggerating? You be the judge:
Crazy things Mainers don’t think twice about
 
  • People don’t lock their house – No exaggeration, at least 10 people to date have told me they do not lock their doors when they leave to go to the store. 3 people have told me they do not lock the house when the go to work!
  • On-Campus bike racks are filled with unlocked bikes
  • Nature walk purses - An entrance to a large wooded park adjacent to a main street had a stack of backpacks and purses unattended while a visible group of teachers and young school kids were doing a nature walk deep in the tree line  
 
 

 

 

 

 

"A Wicked Good place to shop"

 
I love LL Bean products, both in design and overall company philosophy of 100% customer satisfaction. Those words don't resonate much in today’s hyperbole so let me throw (fill in later without sounding condescending)
Even though LL Bean is pricey, they come with a lifetime guarantee, so you only really pay the initial price, and then you're done.  I've had slippers replaced, sneakers, other items  and they honor their products no matter how long you've had them. Amazing place, you could spend hours here.
 
So we moved to to Maine to start wonderful careers in Portland, settling into our first home right in downtown Freeport. What a great time to start a running blog page, just before the full tourist season kicks in (it mid June)...
 
In case you’ve never been to the LL Bean HQ store...
 
The first thing that crossed my mind upon entering the LL Bean mothership was that this place was the Ikea of outdoor living. The surface of the tip of the iceberg would remain un scratched for hours. Not until you see more and more of the "campus" do you see the full spectrum of LL's offering - a general clothing/retail store, a furniture store and a hunting store. 
 

A giant boot in front of the store... Let's take a picture! 

 
 
 
Errrr - I didn't say why I was making this section. I want to document non-common L.L. Bean things you may not see on Yelp, maybe:
 
 
- My product review
- People of LL Bean snapshots
- Weird stuff the I can't believe I just saw
- Interesting facts and info about LLB
 
 
 
 
 
More on the 4th of July festivities
 
 
 
 
 
For now - Lazy cut and paste facts!
 

1. The Name. L.L.Bean stands for Leon Leonwood Bean, a hunter and fisher who founded the company in 1912 in Freeport, Maine.

2. No locks on the flagship store doors. "We have thrown away the keys to the place," exclaimed L.L. in 1951 as he initiated twenty-four/365 service. One of his most famous entrepreneurial changes, Mr. Bean's decision had its origins with nocturnal visitors who would ring the night bell on their way upstate to hunt and fish.

 

3. World War II. L.L.Bean adapted its signature Maine Hunting Shoe for use by both the army and the navy during World War II, and several other items were made for the armed forces. Throughout the war, Mr. Bean and company executives spent time in Washington, D.C. as consultants.

4. The 1960s and Leon. In 1961 L.L.'s grandson, Leon Gorman asked for a job at the family company after graduating from Bowdoin College and spending four years as an officer on Navy destroyers. L.L. put him on the payroll at $80 per week. L.L. was nearly ninety years old at the beginning of the decade and while the company's reputation was at its highest, the retailer was struggling with stagnant operations and outdated facilities. Sales were holding at around $2 million and failing to increase when Leon took the helm as president. During his tenure (1967-2001), he grew L.L. Bean to a billion dollar company.

5. The Science behind the brand. L.L.Bean operates its own independent test lab for scientific analysis of materials, construction and design, and prototypes for new products are continuously tested and revised until they meet customer requirements and company standards. Even established and best-seller products are tested in the lab to maintain the brand's standards for quality and performance.

6. The GIANT boot. The giant Bean boot (pictured above) at the entrance of the flagship store is a size 410.

7. The aquarium. There is an aquarium at the flagship store in Freeport, Maine. The biggest trout in the aquarium is 8 pounds, 28 inches.

8. There's a reason they're known for customer service. L.L. Bean prides itself on its customer service, and many stories from customers validate the company's mission. One of our favorite stories is about Ed Dwyer, who worked as a sales rep in the flagship store until 1985. Mr. Dwyer sold a camping stove to a woman who was about to leave for a tour of Ireland. Soon after the woman left the store, Mr. Dwyer realized she might have trouble finding the proper fuel for the stove in Ireland. He went to the cashier and found that she had paid with a check that listed a town in Vermont as the only address. The next day (his day off), with a more appropriate backpacking stove in hand, Mr. Dwyer drove to the town in Vermont, inquired at the general store, and was given directions to the women's home. He exchanged stoves, and taught her how to use the new one. A few weeks later, Mr. Dwyer began to receive postcards from Ireland.

9. The boot mobile. L.L. Bean built the first Bootmobile in 2012 for the company's 100th Anniversary, and soon thereafter launched another due to popular demand. Today only two exist, and spotting one is tantamount to seeing a unicorn.

10. Company execs live the L.L. Bean lifestyle. People who work at L.L. Bean work hard to ensure customers are satisfied with the quality of products. "We get out into the field as much as we can at L.L.Bean and do the same things that our customers are doing," says company president Chris McCormick. "We use our own products so that we have a better idea of how they're performing. This practice helps us identify better with our customers' experiences and needs."

 
 
 
More reading: 
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/10/llbean-duck-boot-labor-shoes-maine/410863/