|L.L. Bean flagship store, Freeport, Maine|
(Photo credit: Maine Office of Tourism)
This is the grandaddy of all outdoor stores -- including the L.L. Bean retail and outlet stores across the country -- in business more than a century, more than three million visitors a year and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. With its famous big boot out front (see picture) and an incredible, organized variety of clothing and outdoor recreation equipment, this 200,000 sq. ft. store and seven acre campus is like the Disneyland of outdoor recreation stores. You'll find separate buildings for hunting and fishing, biking, boating and skiing, and an outlet store. An L.L. Bean home goods store opened across the street in 2009.
In addition to the classic, well-made merchandise that made L.L. Bean famous, it's also quite entertaining at the Freeport location with events throughout the year, a trout pond in the middle of the store and a 3,500-gallon freshwater aquarium that replicates a 25-ft. long section of a streambed.
The L.L. Bean campus also features the 1912 Cafe, Coffee By Design coffee shop, a courtyard and Discovery Park, summer concerts and various outdoor events.
With all the expansion, one would think that a store like this would lose the "personal touch." Not so, at L.L. Bean in Freeport. They still run it like a small business -- that is, attentive to customers with that patented wonderful customer service and the knack of making you feel almost like a family member.
When I was a kid in the 1970s, L.L. Bean used to be virtually the only store in Freeport. The once sleepy, small town had a isolated feel that, with the exception of L.L. Bean, rolled up the carpets at night. Now, lively and thriving Freeport has a large number of outlet stores and dining options. It almost seems like L.L. Bean would be the "anchor" if the town was a mall.
I'm not totally on board with a sleepy small coastal Maine town becoming a tourist destination, but will always have a place in my heart for the Freeport L.L. Bean. There's simply no better clothing and outdoor recreation store in my retail travel book, anywhere!
The L.L. Bean flagship store is located at 95 Main St., Freeport, Maine. Tel. (877) 755-2326