L.L. Bean may very well be the most active 100-year-old in New England. You'd be hard pressed to find another centenarian that welcomes visitors 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
L.L. Bean has been a fixture on Main Street in Freeport, Maine, since it opened shop there 100 years ago in 1917. The locks on the doors were removed in 1951 when the decision was made to keep the store open 24 hours a day year-round. Today, more than 3 million shoppers visit L.L. Bean in Freeport each year.
There have been very few exceptions to this round-the-clock policy. When the Freeport flagship store closed for a half-day on September 13, 2015, so employees could attend a memorial service for Leon Gorman, it was only the third closing since 1951, USA Today reported. Gorman, former president and chairman of the company, was founder Leon Leonwood Bean's grandson. He also authored the book: L.L. Bean: The Making of an American Icon.
The retail store in Freeport may have just turned 100, but the business celebrated 100 years of successful mail order sales back in 2012. Leon Leonwood Bean invented the Maine Hunting Shoe, a.k.a. the "Bean Boot," in 1911. In 1912, he began a mail order sales business with a four-page flyer sent to out-of-state sportsmen. The rest, as they say, is history.
The L.L. Bean Guarantee
A large part of L.L. Bean's mystique comes from the company's 100 percent satisfaction guarantee--a promise that was born in 1912 and remains to this day. Any L.L. Bean purchase, whether made at the flagship store, at outlet shops or via mail order, can be returned at any time for a replacement or refund. I was impressed that the cashier who rang up our purchases during a recent visit to the L.L. Bean Outlet in Freeport asked me specifically if I was familiar with this remarkable guarantee.
Heading to Freeport?
Getting There... The L.L. Bean Flagship Store is located at 95 Main Street in Freeport, Maine. From I-295 North, take exit 20 for Freeport. Follow U.S. Route 1 North/Main Street into town, and you'll find L.L. Bean right in the center of the village. From I-295 South, take exit 22, then follow U.S. Route 1 South/Main Street to the center of town. Plentiful free parking is available and accessible via Howard Place or Justin's Way (see map).
In addition to the L.L. Bean Retail Store, you'll also find an L.L. Bean Home Store, an L.L.Bean Hunting & Fishing Store and an L.L.Bean Bike, Boat & Ski Store in Freeport. There is also an L.L. Bean Outlet store located nearby in the village center. For directions and hours of operation, call the outlet store at 207-552-7772.
If You're Going... The Freeport Merchants Association offers a free Freeport Map and Visitor's Guide including information on other outlet shops in town, lodging, dining and more. Request the guide online or call 207-865-1212. They also offer exclusive coupons and savings you can print at home before your trip.