Published July 9th, 2012

Few businesses are as quintessentially Maine as L.L. Bean, the Freeport outdoor adventure retailer that this year celebrates its 100 anniversary with all kinds of great sales, musical performances, and even some awesome fireworks.

For the shoppers among us, no trip to Vacationland is complete without perusing the L.L. Bean flagship store, which has three levels, a pond in the center, and a bunch of specialized retail spokes for hunting, biking, kayaking, you name it. L.L. Bean’s main store is known for its 24-hour service (historically, to cater to hunters heading out early) and its incredible exchange policy – a lifetime guarantee for any kind of malfunction, no questions asked. Seems every Mainer has a story about returning a 20 year-old backpack or coat or pair of boots to L.L. Bean and being amazed that the company, indeed, does take most things back and give you a new replacement. Now, I can’t promise it will work every time, but I hear about more successes than failures. Makes sense, I guess, because in the end the goodwill this generates for the company pays dividends. This post is probably a great testament to that business strategy.

Freeport, the town that Bean is located in, is a quaint shopping mecca with all kinds of top-notch outlets, including other outerwear rivals like Patagonia and The North Face. All these stores are within walking distance of one another in a downtown that has old-fashioned store-fronts, a Starbucks, and a few nice restaurants. There’s also an L.L. Bean outlet store where you can find some great discounts. And you can always shop online – L.L. Bean now ships for free, no minimum purchase required.

If you’re curious to try a new outdoor activity, L.L. Bean offers mini-excursions through its Outdoor Adventure Schools where for $20 you can head out for a couple of hours and try kayaking, cross-country skiing, fly casting, sporting clays, snowshoeing, or archery. There are also 100 longer adventures if you are extra ambitious. The signup desk is near the front entrance to the store, which is identifiable by the enormous Bean-boot statue. Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it.