LL Bean Building Outdoor Adventure Center?

WetDawg.com has a news story posted that says L.L. Bean is planning on building an outdoor “adventure center” in Freeport, Maine with the hopes of attracting thousands of visitors to the area.

The plan is to build a facility that will allow visitors to hike, bike, play golf or cross-country ski on the grounds, or go kayaking, seal watching or fishing in nearby Casco Bay. They’ll also build a large “flagship” store on the premises to get customers to spend their cash on L.L. Bean products. Vistors will be able to camp over night as well.

While the prospect of a “Disneyland for outdoor enthusiasts” sounds great, I’m not sure L.L. Bean is the one I’d like leading the charge and building the place. Does anyone think of their clothing or gear when they set out to buy real outdoor equipment? They’ve become yuppie, suburban gear in my mind, and are right up there with Eddie Bauer as “outdoor gear” that people buy because they’ve heard the name, not because it’s quality stuff. Why can’t Mountain Hardware be in charge of building our Disneyland?

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8 thoughts on “LL Bean Building Outdoor Adventure Center?”

  1. Nothing against L.L. Bean. I’m sure they make decent stuff for the crowd they are marketing to. I’d just rather go to a different kind of outdoor playgroun then they are likely to build.

  2. I have a cottage not too far up the coast of Maine from LL Bean and typically visit the store every summer. It’s impressive–open 24/7 so there aren’t even any locks on the doors! Also, customer service is better there than anywhere I’ve ever experienced.

    However, the LL Bean brand just doesn’t interest me. They sell some other stuff…I know I got my Petzel Tikka’s there…but primarily they cater to a clientele that likes to wear outdoor gear, but not really go outdoors. I hope that makes sense. Or at least they like to go outdoors once in a while.

    But, it all makes sense. The people who buy Mountain Hardwear (which is owned by Columbia, by the way) are more “fanatical” about their outdoor pursuits and thus represent a smaller population. These people could never financially support an “outdoor playground” such as LL Bean is looking to build.

    Without sounding like a snob, though, I like the idea of this playground. I certainly was partly introduced to the great outdoors through the magnificent LL Bean store in Freeport as a kid and it may inspire other people to “get out there” for real after a visit. Also, it may keep some of the others away from my favorite spots where I go to be alone.

    For those of you who have never been to Freeport…there’s a Patagonia Outlet, North Face Outlet as well as Horny Toad and Cloudveil Outlet just a stones throw from the LL Bean Mothership. Well worth the rainy afternoon visit.

    Jon
    http://www.therestofeverest.com

  3. Wow! Sounds like outdoor gear shopping heaven! I’d be so broke!

    I know exactly what you mean about the LL Bean stuff Jon. As I said earlier, their gear is probably pretty good stuff for the crowd they are going after. It’s just not the same crowd that we tend to hang with.

    I like the idea of an outdoor playground as well. It sounds like it’s going to have some fun activities in a small area. I’m sure it’ll draw good crowds and sell lots of merchendise. I just have my doubts about it being a real “wilderness” area, at least once the crowds start coming in.

    But you’re right, if it gets more people interested in being outdoors and doing these activities, more power to them.

    Can they at least throw in a Mountain Hardware Roller Coaster? πŸ˜‰

  4. L.L. Bean, aahh near and dear to my heart! We divorced several years ago when she broke me financially. It was a good break-up, though, I still go visit her occassionally just to let her know that I still exist. I was born and raised about 15 minutes from her and even now, living in the south, make my way up there from time to time. I still have a son that lives nearby. I agree that the playground sounds great. Not sure I would ever be able to justify spending the kind of money they’re sure to expect for playing in it though.

  5. Ahh… Jim, I too know the feeling of unrequited love. I can’t tell you the name of the one that broke my heart (and wallet), but I can tell you that her initials are REI. πŸ˜‰

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