L.L.Bean opens its new Mall of America store at 9 a.m. Friday and expects to sell out of its iconic Bean Boots by 12 p.m.
The boots, handmade in Maine, are on back order all around the country, vice president of stores Greg Elder says, but L.L.Bean made sure its new MOA store was stocked for opening, with around 300 pair. Based on other recent store openings, which have drawn crowds of as many as 3,000, they won't last long. The boots—the product that launched L.L.Bean 102 years ago—have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, as winters have been harsh and function has become fashion, from college campuses to fashion runways.
L.L.Bean churns out nearly 400,000 boots each year, but that hasn't been enough the past four winters, Elder says. The company has talked about expanding production, but training a new boot maker takes some 20-plus hours, and L.L.Bean—known for its 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and exceptional service—would rather face a shortage than worry about having to lay off employees if the boots' popularity wanes.
Mall of America is L.L. Bean's 21st store, and its first west of the Mississippi. The store is located in part of the old Bloomingdale's space in the southeast court, with its own exterior door to the mall. The 29,000-square-foot store offers apparel and footwear for the whole family, gifts and gear—from backpacks and fishing rods to kayaks and maple syrup.
The store is planning three days of giveaways, seminars, and demonstrations. A rock climbing wall, Nordic ski simulator, slack lining demonstrations, and 3D art photo booth are among the grand opening attractions. The first 200 customers in line Friday will receive an L.L.Bean gift card worth up to $500.
Before you head to MOA, check out Ali Shops Mall of America for tips, guides, and more.