TODAY'S TMJ4 partner,The Milwaukee Business Journal reports approximately 300 people turned out for the grand opening of the new 16,000-square-foot store in the town of Brookfield. The Freeport, Maine-based company — known for its use of catalogs to sell its outdoor merchandise and active apparel — had been looking to enter Wisconsin for the past five years, said Ken Kacere, senior vice president of L.L. Bean retail stores, but the clothing company had a hard time finding the right open-air retail setting for its needs.
“We’ve been wanting to get Wisconsin for a long time because it’s an outdoor state," he said. "How much more outdoor can you get, other than Maine? We've just been waiting for the right location because we like to go to places that have an exterior presence, an outdoor entrance and not be inside a mall.”
The retail location features a variety of outdoor apparel, camping gear, paddling gear, shoes and other products created for outdoor activity. Kayaks and boats that are for sale are mounted to the walls. Customers can also choose from a selection of watches and other gadgets for their open-air activities. Of all the products the firm is known for, L.L. Bean's men's sweater fleece and signature boots are among their best-selling products.
L.L. Bean currently has only 32 locations outside of its home state of Maine and the Brookfield location is one of five the company is opening this year. Kacere said the addition of these new stores is part of the company's larger omnichannel strategy: some shoppers want to feel and try on their goods and are hesitant to purchase online or through the catalog. This store gives them that option to familiarize themselves with the product and the brand.
“This market probably only knows us by catalog or website and that’s their experience with the brand," he said. "So when they come in here, we really think about how they want to experience the real life L.L.Bean for the first time."
Additionally, the Brookfield store offers its L.L. Bean's Outdoor Discovery World Schools, where shoppers can sign up for sport lessons, trips and other group outdoor activities — like archery, kayaking and paddling — coordinated by L.L. Bean.
The company also is planning another location in the Hilldale Shopping Center in Madison. That store will likely open in 2018 or 2019, Kacere said.
L.L. Bean is among the latest retailer to open at the new mixed-use lifestyle center The Corners. It joins tenants like Von Maur, Lululemon, Free People, Arhaus, Cafe Hollander, BelAir Cantina and others.