L.L.Bean Opens Store In Former MOA Bloomingdale’s Space
The husk of the former Bloomingdale’s space at Mall of America will be a little less empty starting Friday when L.L.Bean opens its newest location there.
It will be the outdoor retailer’s first store west of the Mississippi River. Based in Freeport, Maine, most of its stores are clustered in New England and along the East Coast, but decided to open its 21st store outside of Maine because of strong catalogue and Internet sales.
“The people of Minnesota and Maine share a number of similarities, including a love of the outdoors,” senior vice president Ken Kacere said in a statement. “With its dynamic natural resources, and a population base that lives the outdoor lifestyle, Minnesota is an ideal location for L.L.Bean’s first store west of the Mississippi.”
The store will sprawl across 29,000 square feet of first floor space and is one of the larger stores outside Maine, according to Mac McKeever, a spokesman for the company. When it opens, “dozens” will be employed, and the company plans to eventually hire 120 full- and part-time workers. Like an anchor store, it will have access from both the inside and outside.
The store will be tailored to Minnesota with cold-weather gear, skis, snowshoes and ice fishing equipment. All L.L.Bean stores have a “discovery school” for demonstrations and classes.
L.L.Bean moving to the mall fills the outdoors and sporting goods niche that “we quite honestly need more of,” said Maureen Bausch, vice president of business development at Mall of America. “That’s a category that we have a bit of a void in, and we’re always trying to create a new merchandise mix.”
The company is taking a portion of the space left vacant when Bloomingdale’s shuttered its store—one of the mall’s original anchors—in 2012, leaving thousands of square feet of space unused. Instead of attempting to woo another large tenant, Mall of America divided up the space and said it wanted international, fast-fashion retailers to take its place.
Since then, Forever 21 moved into large space on the lower level as well as part of the first floor—which it will share with L.L.Bean—and the third floor opened as “Barbie, the Dreamhouse Experience.”
While L.L.Bean and Barbie might not fit the fast-fashion mold, Bausch says the mall has added it elsewhere. “[Fast fashion] ended up going other places in the mall. Adding L.L.Bean gave us a new dimension that appeals to the Upper Midwest.”
The mall is currently talking with potential tenants for the still-vacant Bloomingdale’s second-floor space and continues work on a massive office and retail expansion.
The store’s grand opening will take place through the weekend, with the company wooing customers with free gift cards, a kayak package, and demonstrations.
The expansion to the state may be a sign of further openings, with a Denver-area location opening later this month. McKeever says the company is eyeing locations in the Midwest and out west, but that added that it’s also excited to become immersed in Minnesota.
To do that, it commissioned local artist Tom Foty to produce an original painting of Minnehaha Falls that will be featured on their catalogue—as well as given away to a store visitor—and donated $15,000 to the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. McKeever said the company is interested in helping other nonprofits as well.
L.L.Bean was founded in 1912 and is remains a family-owned company. In 2012, net sales were $1.52 billion.