L.L.Bean is an American, privately held retail company founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean. The company is headquartered where it was founded, in Freeport, Maine. It specializes in clothing and outdoor recreation equipment.
L.L.Bean was founded in 1912 by its namesake, hunter and fisherman Leon Leonwood Bean in Freeport, Maine. The company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe. Bean had developed a waterproof boot, which is a combination of lightweight leather uppers and rubber bottoms, that he sold to hunters. He obtained a list of nonresident Maine hunting license holders, prepared a descriptive mail order circular, set up a shop in his brother’s basement in Freeport and started a nationwide mail-order business. By 1912, he was selling the Bean Boot, or Maine Hunting Shoe, through a four-page mail-order catalog, and the boot remains a staple of the company’s outdoor image. Defects in the initial design led to 90 percent of the original production run being returned: Bean honored his money-back guarantee, corrected the design, and continued selling them.
The 220,000 sq ft L.L.Bean retail store campus in Freeport, Maine is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Leon L. Bean died on February 5, 1967, in Pompano Beach, Florida. He is buried in Freeport’s Webster Cemetery. The company passed into the directorship of Bean’s grandson, Leon Gorman, from that time until 2001, when Gorman decided to take the position of Chairman, leaving the position of CEO to Christopher McCormick, the first non-family member to assume the title. On May 19, 2013 Shawn Gorman, 47, a great-grandson of the company’s founder, was elected L.L.Bean’s chairman. The company announced a US$125,000 donation to a new scholarship fund upon Leon Gorman’s death in 2015, representing about 2.5 years of tuition at his alma mater, Bowdoin College.
Stephen Smith was named CEO in November 2015, the first time in the company’s 103-year history that a CEO had been hired from outside the company.