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May 5, 2020

L.L. Bean, other Maine retailers adapt to crisis as restaurants have

While many restaurants have adapted to current business restrictions by offering curbside service, one of Maine’s most iconic retailers is now doing the same.

L.L. Bean Inc. on Monday said customers who drive to its flagship store in Freeport can get purchases brought to their cars. The store, and all of Bean’s over 40 retail locations, have been closed since mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bean is offering the service only in Freeport. Customers just need to order their products for pickup there, drive to a designated area at the downtown campus, and show a photo identification. Bean employees will load purchases into the trunk or back seat without any direct customer contact.

“We’ll bring the outdoors out to you,” the company says on its website.

Bean isn’t the only Maine retailer adapting this way to public health restrictions imposed by Gov. Janet Mills to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Renys, which has 17 discount merchandise stores throughout Maine, began offering a similar service last week. Kittery Trading Post also now provides curbside pickup.

Other retailers are having mixed success as they deal with the effects of the crisis.

Apparel retailer J. Crew on Monday said it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing massive debt and financial effects of the pandemic. J. Crew operates about 400 stores nationally, including three factory stores in Maine. The company has not yet said how the bankruptcy filing may affect those operations.

Another national chain, Macy’s, is slowly reopening some of its 680 stores as states begin loosening their business restrictions. On Monday, Macy’s opened 68 stores across the U.S. — although not its sole Maine location, in South Portland — and hopes to open remaining locations by June, according to the Wall Street Journal. In February, the chain announced plans to close 125 stores permanently because of poor performance.

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