A Visit to L.L. Bean

Usually a trip to L.L. Bean means a trip to Freeport, Maine, but thanks to Bean’s retail expansion I only had to travel an hour down the road to Columbus, Ohio. I had never been to an L.L. Bean store so I was interested to take in the new store in first hand.
Columbus Ohio Bean BootI was a little concerned that the store would look like a shopping mall version of L.L.Bean. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was not actually in the mall, but had its own free standing building near a mall. Bean also stayed true to its outdoorsy roots by offering quite a bit of their outdoor gear at the fatality not just their clothing.

My other concern was stock. Often when I enter a brick and mortar store I know exactly what I am looking for as I have previously scoped it out online. When I ask for that particular item the salesperson often hits me with, “We don’t carry the in-store, but I can order it for you.” No offense to the salesperson, but I am a competent e-shopper and need no help in ordering something online. The other issue is often sizing. Many brick and mortar stores with a strong e-commerce presence don’t stock many sizes. Once again I was impressed as I found 90% of what I was interested in and they had a full range of sizes in store.
Bean MocsI know that you all are wondering if I made any purchases. I did. I ended walking away with a pair of camp mocs and bluchers mocs. I went with the Signature line models as they had both versions for me to compare and the Signature line was noticeably nicer. I haven’t had a chance to break them in yet, but you can expect a full review in the future.

When I first heard about Bean’s plans to increase their physical presence I was wary. My concern was that they would increase their overhead so much that if and when Bean boots are not the hottest trend of the season that Bean will have to meet current trends to keep its doors open. For all of my trad readers I will call this the Brooks Brother effect. My visit set me at ease, at least for the time being. I just hope that in another 100 years that I will still be able to recognize the brand.

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

27 Comments on "A Visit to L.L. Bean"

  1. Shipworthy says:

    Good choice on the Signature Blucher Mocs. I’ve had my current pair for about a year and they are my go to casual shoe. They’ve broken in nicely and still look and feel great. Despite the online lamenting you’ll find about Bean’s dip in quality, these shoes, at least, are still solid and reasonably priced.

  2. Farrah says:

    Is this near Polaris? We pass by there twice a year on the way to Mansfield.

  3. oxford cloth button down says:

    Farrah – It is near Easton, but not far from Polaris.

    Shipworthy – Good to hear! I thought that they would be a nice addition to my weekend rotation and might even see the occasional casual Friday.

  4. Roger C. Russell II says:

    I is nice to hear that you had a good experience. I still shop L.L. Bean products. I would like to buy more of their products, but I run into problems. I live in my LLB Campmocs. However. I had to recently replace a pair and I had to return 3 pair before I got a pair that fit like my initial pair. They were all the same size just all 3 pair were completely different fitting shoes. Also. The reason for my return of the original pair was because the sole split in half. However, I put up with all of the trouble because I do like the shoe.
    I would love to try Signature Campmocs but they do not offer an E width. This width issue is what I hate most about L.L. Bean, and also this is an issue with the Bass Weejun. I have the same opinion as the Blogger Maxminimus, which is that all products should be Signature quality. Also, not all us desire shirts that are cut too small.

  5. Fred Johnson says:

    I agree with you regarding Bean Signature, in fact I ordered both the mocs & bluchers in saddle tan a month ago. Saving both for the warmer weather. With a Bean Outlet a few miles away I am there 2 or 3 times a week. In fact, just give me Bean & J Press and I’m set. Wish they still carried the winter weight flannels…

    • Gary says:

      Fred and Ox, I’m on the fence about Signature. Some of it looks okay, but much of it, to my eye, looks inauthentic, in a way, i.e., modern, a bit trendy. I feel “safer” with the traditional line.

  6. Gary says:

    Nice report, and glad it was a good experience. We sometimes make the pilgrimage to Freeport, because we have relatives we visit for holidays. I’m glad Bean is opening other great stores around the country. For me, Bean is essential, right along with O’Connell’s, Brooks, and Press, with a good 60 percent or so of my wardrobe coming from Bean.

  7. oxford cloth button down says:

    Gary – I think that Fred and I were only referring to the Signature line blucher and camp mocs. They have the same look (actually the older look), but utilize higher quality materials. I don’t have strong feelings about Signature line clothing, but I agree with your assessment.

  8. Fred Johnson says:

    I need to buy very few things these days and about 85% of what I do buy comes from Bean.
    Actually most of the rest is Press or thrifted BB.

  9. Josh says:

    What I love about the Camp Moc is that its approptiate all year round. In the spring and summer its a grown up boat shoe, while in the winter it can take on light snow with beefy socks.

  10. CAY says:

    I recently bought a pair of Signature Bluchers as well — about three months ago. I bought them over the regulars because they are lined and have higher quality materials. They were very slightly snug at first wearing, but have broken in nicely. They are a joy to wear. I have a pair of Quoddy boat shoes that are my usual casual shoe, but recently I find I am going to these Signature Bluchers more often. I’m glad I got them.

    I had a pair of Bluchers from the mid-1990s that finally blew out, and these are the replacement pair. I expect a lot of mileage out of them. I usually get great wear out of LL Bean footwear. For example, I have a pair of Maine Hunting shoes (Bean Boots) from the mid-1980s that are still going strong.

    Did you get two pairs of laces with them? I did. A pair of regular laces and also a pair of leather laces. The old Bluchers just had regular laces. Is this a feature of the Signature line, or did I get a bonus?

  11. oxford cloth button down says:

    CAY – I was wondering if my second pair of laces might be a Signature line bonus as well. I don’t know if the regular pair comes with the second set or not. Anyone know?

  12. Fred Johnson says:

    Ox, Clay
    Regular bluchers do not come with the second set of laces. I too had to return my first signature bluchers because of quality control twice. They are still going strong after 2 years but I just wanted the saddle tan which was not then available. Saw the mocs in the same color and figured what the hell.. I also have regular mocs & bluchers in wide width just for winter wear with thick socks. Can’t beat the look and decent quality for the price.

  13. CAY says:

    Another good purchase from LL Beans that I made recently is their lined chinos. These are khakis with a flannel liner. Perhaps not as large a rise as I would prefer (not too bad), but some of the most comfortable khakis I own. I live in southern New England and it gets cold and snowy here in the winter. These are wonderful ‘winter khakis,’ and keep me warm without having to don long underwear. In fact, I just ordered another pair.

    Anyone else wear these?

  14. mhj says:

    I’ve had my eye on the Allagash oxfords (http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/52291?feat=629-GN1&page=men-s-allagash-bison-handsewns-oxford). Not crazy about the two-tone leather though. What’s the collective opinion on these?

  15. MostlyTrad says:

    Thank you for the review of your visit. I am currently reading “Guaranteed to Last: L.L.Bean’s Century of Outfitting America”, by Jim Gorman. Interesting table top book with some good pictures. Looking forward to visiting a brick and mortar store one of these days. Hopeful that the company maintains quality offerings into the future.

  16. oxford cloth button down says:

    MHJ – I like the look of the Allagash loafer for casual situations. I imagine that they would look great with cords. I looked at the boot version several times as that is hole that I need to fill.

  17. JD says:

    Is the Camp Moc in saddle tan and the Blucher in dark brown?

  18. oxford cloth button down says:

    JD – You are spot on. I was leaning towards getting the Saddle color in both, but I changed my mind just to get a little more variety.

    Gary- No worries at all. As I said, I agree with your overall assessment of their Signature line.

  19. JD says:

    Maybe it’s my eyes or my monitor or the lighting, but the dark brown almost looks like a greyed out chocolate. Do you have any other photos, or perhaps a follow up post as to how they’ve broken in? Maybe start an AAAC thread comparing them to others?

  20. paper clip says:

    I am still a fan of Bean. Luckily, I live in the northeast near a retail store, and frequently travel to north conway, NH where there is a great outlet. I get a flannel shirt every year and love their chamois shirts as well. I lived in the camp doc and canoe mocs in college, returning each year to the mothership in Freeport on spring break to get a replacement pair. I haven’t had any in a while – I use Sebago boat shoes in spring/summer and timberland 3 eye classics for fall/winter. The signature line of shoes intrigues me, due to the well-reported quality issues with the main line versions. Thanks for the report.

  21. Joe says:

    You may remember me. Joe, from Columbus, OH. Hey my friend, those better not be my next pair of camps you are modeling in the store in bare feet! I live 10 minutes from Easton and have been in that Bean store 10 times+. ha ha!! You are the “salesman” blogger to have them let you model those in bare feet–someone else is buying those! (you seem clean cut. ha!)
    It is a nice location, but I had to return their khakis due to the chemical treatment we discussed via email. (after Bills liquidation.) BTW- Bean fleece blankets are unreal great. I use a king size for my queen bed as a comforter. (thick and soft) Great towels too! Love the Mainers. Wicked good! 8″ Bean boots and camp mocs are staples in my home. Best, Joe

  22. Jerry Grasso says:

    How are the camp mocs doing for you a month in? I wear an 8 M in the blucher mocs because the blucher doc wide stretches way too wide, was wondering if anyone can recommend on the camp mocs if I get a wide or medium in the 8…I know hand sewn means a few wears to break in…thx.

  23. oxford cloth button down says:

    Hi Jerry,

    My mocs are working out nicely. They may have stretched a little, but not much. However, I have only worn them about 10 times. Not sure if that helps, but I hope it does!

    Also, the Bean Signature moc only comes in a medium width.

I would like to hear from you