He had tried a number of jobs without success but, unlike Dubya, these jobs were undistinguished so failure only hurt himself. His last job was clerking in his brother's dry goods store. But the call of the hunt was too much for him. So were his wet and cold feet. Leather boots let water in. Rubber boots made his feet sweat. He decided to solve the problem.
|The Maine Hunting Shoe.|
In 1911 Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean worked with a cobbler to design a boot with leather uppers and rubber bottoms and came up with the Maine Hunting Shoe, and the cornerstone of a successful business. He began working out of his brother's shop. Cleverly, a year later he was able to get a list of non-resident hunters who had Maine hunting licenses. To these he sent a three-page flyer stating:
"You cannot expect success hunting deer or moose if your feet are
not properly dressed. The Maine Hunting Shoe is designed by
a hunter who has tramped the Maine woods for the last 18 years.
We guarantee them to give perfect satisfaction in every way."
L.L. was aware of the power of mail order as exemplified by Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. One hundred orders came in for his boots. However, ninety of them came back with the leather tops ripped from the rubber bottoms. He refunded their money making good on his guarantee. He solved the problem with triple stitching and the use of better quality materials.
He relied on word-of-mouth and worked hard to build a mailing list. His initial profits went to advertising. Customer service was an utmost priority and built his reputation. By 1934 his flyer had become a 52-page catalog. He began to have in-person visits to his factory in Freeport, Maine, and in 1951 he opened the store 24/7 all year. There are no locks on the Freeport store.
|The Field Coat, introduced in 1924.|
While the business began with the Maine Hunting Shoe, other products were soon added: the Field Coat in 1924; the Chamois Shirt in 1928; and the
|Chamois Cloth Shirt, introduced in 1928.|
|The flagship store in Freeport, Maine. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.|
|Even your dog will like L.L.Bean's "Wicked Good Dog Couch".|
Image courtesy of Lynn Quire.