June 20, 2018
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Orvis to open outlet store near L.L. Bean in Freeport

By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff

FREEPORT, Maine — Although Orvis managers acknowledge that “L.L. Bean owns the town,” the international fly fishing equipment giant will open an outlet just a few hundred feet from the outdoor retail giant at the end of July.

Don Benasich, senior manager of Orvis’ outlet division, confirmed Thursday that the company will open its 11th outlet store at 24 Bow St., in the building formerly occupied by a Brooks Brothers outlet.

Orvis is known for fly fishing equipment, but Benasich said that in the outlets, other sale items such as men’s and women’s clothing, gifts and home furnishings are more popular.

Orvis operates 60 retail stores around the country — the closest is in Boston — and 10 other outlets including one in Kittery.

Benasich said the Orvis outlets are unlike other outlets in Freeport, which he said sell made-for-outlets merchandise.

“We are true clearance,” he said, selling products discontinued from lines in retail stores and the catalog.

Of the store’s proximity to L.L. Bean, Benasich said, “Really, L.L. Bean owns the town. That’s the draw in Freeport: L.L. Bean. We’re a competitor, but not to that scale … We’re very excited to come to Freeport.”

Eric Wallace of Coastal Fly Angler, a Freeport-based fly fishing guide, said he’ll wait to see what fly fishing products Orvis offers in its Freeport store before determining how much impact the store will have on L.L. Bean’s sales.

“They’re definitely competitors,” Wallace said. While L.L. Bean’s fly selection “is probably as good as anywhere in the country,” Orvis’ own brand of fly rods is “a higher end product, whereas L.L. Bean brings in other brands to compete with the Orvis rods in the upper, upper end.”

“Overall, I’d wait to see what Orvis is doing,” he said. “It will depend on how serious they are. If they want to play hardball, they could come in and take away some business.”

Orvis is not the only new storefront in Freeport’s downtown. Casco Bay Fibers has moved into the 15 Main St. space formerly occupied by The Beadin’ Path; Beansprouts Early Learning Childcare Center will open July 29 on Lower Main Street; and Maine Woolens is due to move into space on Main Street between Shermans Books & Stationery and Derosier’s Market, according to Sande Updegraph of the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce.

And after renovations and a menu change, new owners Tom Hincks and Christian Erdmann have reopened Jameson Tavern, which closed in February.

“I think it’s kind of a banner year,” Updegraph said Thursday. “It’s spring and summer in Freeport, and a lot of new businesses start up at this time of the year. But I do really think we’re seeing a little turn in the economy and people are feeling a little more confident, particularly around tourism, which continues to be stronger.”


Correction: A previous version of this headline requires correction. The Freeport Orvis store would not be the first north of Boston. Orvis already operates an outlet in Kittery, Maine, and is headquartered in Sunderland, Vt.

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