L.L. Bean opens first Michigan store

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Clinton Township — Shoppers are invited to bring their dogs to the grand-opening celebration of Michigan’s first L.L. Bean retail store Friday.

Sales rep. Courtney Snyder, left, talks with Susan Deeb, right, 67, of Grosse Pointe Farms, her daughter, Jamie Sperti, center, 33, and her daughters, Siofra, 3, and Saoirse, 14 months old, in the stroller, all of Grosse Pointe Woods. L.L.Bean is opening its first retail store in Michigan at The Mall at Partridge Creek.

The first 200 people through the door at the store the Mall at Partridge Creek will get to pick a gift card from a tote bag. Ken Kacere, senior vice president and general manager of retail for L.L. Bean said five of the gift cards will be worth $500. Others range from $10 to $250.

The dog-friendly store opens at 9 a.m. Friday, but Kacere expects fans of the brand to start lining up around 4 a.m. For grand openings, the stores see anywhere from 300 to 1,000 people queue up.

Because Michigan has so many outdoor enthusiasts, Kacere expects a big turnout over the weekend.

“We’ve been looking to open a Michigan store for four years,” he said. “Our brand is strong in Michigan. ... Michigan has great outdoor activities.”

The outdoor retailer’s 14,000-square-foot store is located on the north wing of the outdoor mall near Moosejaw and Eddie Bauer. The store is divided equally between men’s and women’s clothing, and has sections devoted to their popular shoes and Bean Boot, kayaking, fly fishing and children’s apparel.

All of L.L. Bean’s standalone stores have to be outside, Kacere said. His team scouted Michigan locations all over the state, but decided Partridge Creek was best for the company’s 29th retail store outside of its home state of Maine.

The store, which employs about 100, will be a hub for the brand’s Outdoor Discovery Schools. Some courses are free, others cost $25, but all deploy L.L. Bean instructors to teach people how to fly fish, paddleboard and other activities that “push the outdoors.”

“Our mission has always been about getting people outside,” Kacere said.

Lisa Rineer, manager at the new store, added that free classes will be held in the store every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. starting Aug. 30.

Prior to opening, Michigan shoppers got their L.L. Bean gear out of catalogs and online. Rineer said the physical location in Michigan will offer those loyal to the brand as well as new shoppers a chance to interact with knowledgeable sales associates and get a better feel for the brand.

“Things look different on a computer,” she said.

Mark Ericson, 69, drove from Troy to check out the new store Thursday as part of a special sneak-preview for L.L. Bean credit card holders. He bought his first L.L. Bean shirt in the late 1960s.

He used to do most of his shopping out of catalogs. But the Michigan store is already proving more useful.

While browsing Thursday, Ericson, a hunter and fisher, checked out a pair of pants he’d seen in the catalog. They were thicker and more durable than he thought. He wouldn’t have bought them if he hadn’t been able to touch them in the store.

He doesn’t expect to spend much more money now that there’s a store down the street: “(L.L. Bean) drains the wallet every year already,” he said. “I love L.L. Bean.”

Events throughout the weekend include a chance to win a trip to Maine, free fly-casting and archery lessons, slacklining and a Kids’ Day on Sunday.

L.L. Bean’s Bootmobile — a truck modified to look like a giant Bean Boot — will circle the mall and will hit the Woodward Dream Cruise throughout the weekend.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau