Although L.L. Bean is known for its venerable catalog, the marketer of outdoor gear and apparel also operates four stores on the East Coast, which account for 25% of its revenue. And its fourth-quarter comparable-store sales are up 3%-5% over last year, according to spokesperson Rich Donaldson. In fact, he says, sales have been up in all channels.
Bean, which has long operated a store in its hometown of Freeport, ME, has completed the first phase of its regional expansion. Bean opened a store in McLean, VA, in 2000. Its Columbia, MD, store opened in 2001, and its store in Marlton, NJ, a suburb of Philadelphia, opened in 2002. For now the company is in a retail holding pattern of sorts, waiting to see where any improvements, if any, will be necessary before looking into any additional retail locations, Donaldson says.
One retail challenge that the cataloger is learning to contend with is how weather affects sales. Thanks to December’s early winter storms in the East, “we have taken hits on certain days when the weather has made it difficult for people to get out and shop,” Donaldson says. But he adds that the day before the second snowstorm hit Maine in mid-December, “we had our best single day ever here in Freeport–which is definitely something for us to cheer about.”