Live from NEMOA: L.L. Bean’s Latest Adventures

Sep 25, 2007 8:52 PM  By

Portland, ME-There’s no place like home for L.L. Bean. And that’s why the multichannel marketer has poured more than $90 million back into Freeport, ME, in the past 24 months. During his Sept. 21 session “Theme Parks, Paddling Centers, Retail Stores, and L.L. Bean” at the NEMOA conference, the company’s senior vice president of marketing Steve Fuller detailed a few initiatives.

Bean will build, refurbish, or expand its Freeport, ME-based hometown into a veritable outdoor oasis for the 3 million annual visitors. It will also play a key role in Bean’s future. “The outdoors has always been integral to Bean’s brand,” Fuller said.

Freeport Village, which includes 118,000 sq. ft. of retail space as well as a parking garage, is scheduled to open in November. And attached to Bean’s existing store–through a 9,000 sq.-ft. connector—is a 24,000 sq.-ft. addition devoted to hunting and fishing. “This is part of a re-evaluation of our entire Freeport campus,” says Fuller. “We want a better shopping experience for our customers.”

To improve the direct shopping experience, Bean is expanding its massive distribution center, which now comprises 1 million sq.-ft. and has the ability to ship 250,000 packages a day. It’s also adding a retail DC, because Fuller noted, the cataloger had a lot to learn about retail fulfillment. Bean is also unveiling an order online, pick up in-store program, he said.

Bean, which has 10 stores, wants to double its retail footprint in four years. But, Fuller noted, “we will not open a retail store if the customer won’t have some kind of outdoor experience.”

Speaking of outdoor experiences, Fuller clarified Bean’s plans to develop a theme park in Freeport. The merchant is working on an outdoor adventure attraction with sports activities—rather than a park offering rides and fun houses. Fuller told attendees that he had been away on a project for two months, and when he returned earlier this summer the local news was that the cataloger was opening an amusement park. “I was reading the local paper, which ran a headline ‘Bean sees theme park in horizon,’” he laughed. “I knew I had been away for some time, but it wasn’t that long.”