Maine’s most iconic outerwear retailer plans to open its first downtown store in the United States in Boston Friday morning.
That store and four others opening later this year elsewhere in the United States are part of an L.L.Bean strategy to locate smaller stores in what it considers unique urban markets where outdoor gear will be chosen specifically for the tastes of local residents, Eric Smith, brand engagement spokesman for the company, said.
The other four will be in New Haven, Connecticut, near Yale University; Park City, Utah; Madison, Wisconsin, near the University of Wisconsin; and Oak Brook, Illinois.
The retailer has four other Massachusetts stores in suburban areas: Burlington, Mansfield, Dedham and Mashpee on Cape Cod.
“Each are smaller stores in unique markets where we will curate the assortment of clothes we will sell,” Smith said. “It is part of a national retail growth plan with smaller stores carrying items for local buyers where we understand the market and the community.”
The store opens at 9 a.m. Friday. It will employ about 50 people and be open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on average.
Smith said he recently saw someone trying to get into the store at 8:30 a.m.
“Maybe he thought it was open 24 hours a day, like the Freeport store,” Smith said.
The Boston store will sell town-to-trail casual and active wear, he said. It also will capitalize on its proximity to the Fort Point Channel, where customers can put in kayaks and have other outdoor experiences using rented L.L.Bean gear as part of the retailer’s Outdoor Discovery Program.
Smith said L.L.Bean donated $5,000 to the Boston Harbor Islands, a group of state, national and city parks that it hopes to use for its Outdoor Discovery Program.
The store will be L.L.Bean’s 35th in the United States outside Maine. It will be 8,600 square feet on one floor at 56 Seaport Boulevard. That compares with 14,000 square feet for the average L.L.Bean retail store, which typically carries a wide variety of goods and is located in crowded suburban areas, Smith said.
The flagship L.L.Bean store in Freeport is 96,000 square feet, and all five stores on the Freeport campus total 200,000 square feet of retail.
The Boston store is in the One Seaport district near the Convention Center and Boston Harbor. The area has a fast-growing cluster of living and retail space and includes a movie theater and restaurants, one of which, “75 on Courthouse Square,” was started by Thomas Kershaw, whose first restaurant, the Bull and FInch Pub on Beacon Hill, inspired the TV sitcom “Cheers.” There is underground, paid parking available.
While the Boston store is the first urban store in the United States, L.L.Bean has 25 small stores in Japan, most of them in urban areas.
The Boston opening celebration will run three days.
The first 100 customers in the door at 9 a.m. Friday will get a gift card worth up to $500.
Other events Friday include a chance to meet former Red Sox legends Jim Rice, Luis Tiant and Dennis Eckersley. The Red Sox won their home opener Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Events Saturday and Sunday will include outdoor yoga, free food and music.
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