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100-Year Anniversary of L.L. Bean Flagship Store

It sounds preposterous, but it’s true. The L.L. Bean flagship retail store in Freeport, Maine opened for business 100 years ago on August 18, 1917.

That’s interesting, worth note and even celebration, but it does not even come close to being the unbelievable part.

In 1951 the L.L. Bean flagship retail store in Freeport, opened its doors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Since then it has only been closed by choice for three days.

It closed one day in 1962 to pay tribute on the death of President John F. Kennedy; one day in 1967 on the death of founder Leon Leonwood Bean; and one day in 2015 on the death of Bean’s grandson Leon Gorman who was then Chairman of the company.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the store was locked up for two Sundays in 1962 when the state of Maine changed its blue laws. However, a hurriedly gathered ballot among the residents of Freeport quickly reinstated the open doors policy.

When L.L. Bean announced the opening of the store in ’51, he said, “…we’re throwing away the keys!” And in fact, the store has had no lock on the front doors since the day it opened.

However, the place has gotten a bit bigger in the last 100 years. Beginning as a small shop exclusively selling boots in 1917, today the campus in Freeport covers 220,000 square feet – that’s more than five acres.

And of course, that’s only the flagship store. L.L. Bean has 42 retail locations across North America, plus its factory in Brunswick, Maine. While the company sources clothing and other products from around the world, the iconic L.L. Bean products including Maine Hunting Shoes, L.L. Bean Boots, Boat and Tote bags, dog beds, leather goods, and backpacks are still 100 percent hand-crafted at their own factory in the U.S.A.

The “always open” philosophy is just a display of the commitment to customer service that’s at the heart of L.L. Bean. Posters bearing quotes from Bean and Gorman inspire employees at the store. They include Bean’s, “Rule #1 The customer is always right. Rule #2 If the customer is ever wrong, re-read Rule #1” and Gorman’s “Serving customers is a day in, day out, ongoing, never-ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate kid of activity.”

So whenever – day or night – you’re venturing through Maine to go kayaking, rock climbing, fishing, or camping at Acadia National Park, the L.L. Bean store is open and anxious to serve you. Whether you just need a permit for the park or a fishing license … or want to outfit you’re entire trip in one stop – they’ve got you covered.

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