L.L. Bean may very well be the most active 100-plus-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 102 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 in 2017, 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. L.L. Bean has grown from a one-man operation to a company that employs more than 5,000 year-round and more than 10,000 during the peak holiday-season rush.
Inside and Outside the L.L. Bean Flagship Store
There's so much more to this retail destination than shopping for L.L. Bean's full and ever-evolving line-up of home goods, outdoor gear and apparel for men, women and children. Inside the flagship store, you'll find a cafe and coffee shop. and kids love popping their heads up inside the 3,500-gallon fish tank and seeing taxidermied creatures from the Maine woods up close.
Outside, posing for photos with the 16-foot-tall L.L. Bean Boot sculpture is practically mandatory, and Discovery Park hosts a variety of instructional opportunities and events including a popular summer concert series. 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 on the campus in Freeport.
There is also an L.L. Bean Outlet store located nearby in the village center, and the markdowns here are enticing. For directions and hours of operation, call the outlet store at 207-552-7772.
The L.L. Bean Guarantee
For most of its history, a large part of L.L. Bean's mystique came from the company's 100 percent satisfaction guarantee—a promise that was born in 1912. Any L.L. Bean purchase, whether made at the flagship store, at outlet shops or via mail order, could be returned at any time for a replacement or refund. Sadly, this remarkable guarantee, so culturally symbolic of Mainers' integrity, was abused by modern consumers, and rather than go the way of failed retailers like Sears, L.L. Bean had to dial back its guarantee in 2018.
That doesn't mean the company doesn't stand behind its goods. The updated policy gives customers one full year after purchasing an item to return it, so long as they've retained proof of purchase. And if more than a year has passed? The company is committed to working with customers to reach a fair solution if a product is defective.
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. If you prefer, take this scenic route from Portland to Freeport. Plentiful free parking is available and accessible via Howard Place or Justin's Way (see map).
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. Download the guide now or call 207-865-1212 for information. They also are your source for news about special shopping deals and events in town.