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January 25, 2023

L.L.Bean will invest $50M to revamp Freeport store and campus

Courtesy / L.L. Bean Inc. The objectives for the project were heavily influenced by the Freeport Downtown Vision project, which aims to create a walkable and bikeable downtown and further embrace the outdoors, arts, culture and small businesses. 

L.L.Bean said Wednesday it will invest more than $50 million in the Freeport-based business' flagship store and retail campus "to more fully activate the brand’s purpose of enabling people to experience the restorative benefits of being outside."

Once complete, the project at the iconic Maine outdoor gear and clothing retailer will include a more attractive and accessible entrance and façade on Main Street that's better suited for pedestrians. 

Discovery Park, the center of the campus which features seasonal events like concerts and ice skating, will also be expanded with physical amenities for more community engagement and also connect more fluidly with Main Street. Improved access will be made to the campus, outdoor event offerings and retail stores for both customers and employees.

The project team for what is being dubbed "the Freeport Experience" is Zachau Construction of Freeport; Boston-based architect Arrowstreet, Inc.; architects and engineers WBRC of Bangor; and South Portland's Sebago Technics engineering firm. Further details and renderings will be provided in the coming months as plans are finalized and approved.

"Freeport has been our home for over 110 years and our retail campus has evolved into the unofficial hub of downtown,” said Shawn Gorman, executive chairman and great-grandson of founder Leon Leonwood Bean. “We’ve fully embraced that identity and are building for our shared future by creating a best-in-class retail experience surrounding an enhanced outdoor space for all to enjoy right in the center of town.”

A timeline for the project has not been established.

L.L.Bean had 2021 sales of $1.8 billion, the retailer said in its annual report of March 2022. It has 5,500 employees overall. 

What's ahead

Objectives of the project include:

  • Building on customer service at the flagship store, including upgrades, new offerings and improving employee experiences
  • Honoring the New England village aesthetic while celebrating the company’s Maine legacy    
  • Reaffirming the commitment to Freeport and support of neighboring businesses.

The objectives were influenced by the recent Freeport Downtown Vision project, which endeavors to create a walkable and bikeable downtown and further embrace the outdoors, arts, culture and small businesses. 

Normal store hours will remain in place as the Freeport Experience takes shape, but customers and visitors should expect some temporary store changes. For example, the 1912 Café will be closed for the duration of the project and the aquarium will also be replaced. The completed store will feature an enhanced version of the trout and salmon pond as well as new food options. Some departments will also be relocated, but signage and store employees will direct customers and answer questions.

“This reimagining is really for the customers and stakeholders who have invested in us,” said Chief Retail Officer Greg Elder. “A project of this magnitude will of course create some disruptions, but they will pale in comparison to the vision we are bringing to life.”

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