Add L.L. Bean to the major outdoor stores trying for a toehold in the Chicago market.
On Monday, L.L. Bean announced plans to open a new 30,000 square foot store at the Arboretum in South Barrington by September.
It is the first expansion by the fabled 96-year-old Maine outdoor gear and apparel outfitter outside of the northeast corridor.
Ken Kacere, L.L.Beans senior vice president of retail, said,
L.L.Bean has many catalog and web customers in the Chicago area, which is one of our largest markets. Our new stores will showcase a unique product selection for our active outdoor customers.
Included will be the “Outdoor Discovery School, where expert instructors offer `Walk-On Adventures’introductory hands-on experiences in such sports as kayaking and fly-fishing, providing customers an opportunity to learn about the activities that inspire L.L.Bean products.”
The store is expected to employ approximately 125 people.
L.L. Bean was founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe.
The move by L.L.Bean fits a recent pattern in the Chicago market.
Cabela’s established its first Chicago-area store in Hoffman Estates in September and added another in Hammond, Ind., in October. In the past two years, Bass Pro Shops added two stores in the area–Bolingbrook and Portage, Ind.–in to go with the Bass Pro established in Gurnee more than a decade ago. And REI now has three area stores: Oakbrook Terrace, Schaumburg and Northbrook.