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Mall Gets The (L.L. Bean) Boot

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — A notable piece of Maine is hiking into Fairfield County. L.L. Bean , the venerable outdoor outfitter company, is officially opening its doors this weekend at the Danbury Fair Mall.

Founded in a basement in Freeport, Maine, a century ago by avid outdoorsman Leon Leonwood Bean, the company now has retail outlets throughout the Northeast as well as in Japan and China.

The company’s uncommon customer service trademark for its products — a lifetime money-back guarantee – began with one of its original and still extant products, the Maine Hunting Shoe, now known as the “Bean Boot,” which was sold through a four-page mail order catalog.

The original version had a manufacturing defect, and the company allowed its customers to receive a full refund if they returned the defective product; a full 90 percent of the boots sold turned out to be defective. Since then, the eponymously named company has guaranteed all its products.

Today’s marketing and sales techniques are decidedly large scale. The company has grown from a one-man operation to a global organization, with annual sales of $1.44 billion. L.L. Bean’s order fulfillment centers in Freeport have the capacity to store more than 10 million units of merchandise as well to process an average of 50,000 customer orders per day. In 2011, the company shipped nearly 13 million packages on a single day.

In Danbury this weekend, the focus of the grand opening will be considerably less universal, with events such as gift-card giveaways, lessons on basic compass and map navigation, a discussion on “The Basics of Birding,” as well as a live birds of prey demonstration, complete with ravens, falcons, hawks and owls.

So, take a hike over to the L.L. Bean store and enjoy spending part of the day in a Maine mainstay.