Originally Posted by danp413
I have been laughing at the ad campaign that LL Bean has been running showing that they now have free shipping. I just keep thinking that they have felt the pressure from Little River.
Let me say this first: LRO is my favorite fly shop, but LL Bean is my favorite store.
Honestly, LL Bean and LRO really aren't competitors. LL Bean carries 20,000 products in its inventories and has annual sales of approximately $2B. They are a large retail company that just happens to sell a few flyrods on the side. LL Bean competes directly with Cabelas, REI, Eddie Bauer, Bass Pro Shops, Gander Mtn and to some degree Orvis.
If you ever get up to Freeport Maine, I would encourage you to stop into their flagship store. They are having their 100th anniversary this year. However, I would suggest shopping sometime between 1am and 5am, because it can be a zoo during the day (its the 2nd largest tourist attraction in the state of Maine - with 3 million visitors a year). It has an awesome selection of clothing, camping gear, hunting gear, housewares, biking, kayaking and more. I think the store is over 200,000 SF.
And yes they have a fairly decent flyfishing section in the Fishing and Hunting store, but they carry mostly their own gear which is somewhat positioned as entry-level equipment. The Freeport store carries a good selection of fly tying accessories and materials as well as lots of other things they don't have on their website (they may carry them in their catalog), but its really geared toward local (Maine) fishermen (after all, its a local shop to them, since so many "Mainers" are employed by LL Bean...).
As far as their move (back) to free shipping, this comes from their website:
As L.L.Bean nears its 100th anniversary, it re-introduced everyday free shipping in March 2011 for all US and Canadian orders with no minimum purchase and no end date. This continues the tradition that Leon Leonwood started in 1912 by offering all L.L.Bean products in his catalog "post paid."
In case you think I work for LL Bean, here's the bottom line: My family and I go to Maine at least once a year and stop at LL Bean every time. We buy a ton of clothing and home stuff, but I still prefer buying ALL of my fly gear from LRO. Personal service does win out over a cool store, great selection and great (free) shipping (LRO and LL Bean have all of those). I'm fortunate in that I'm only 22 minutes from LRO. In fact, I was at LRO on Tuesday, dropping off a flyrod to be repaired and buying a few more tying knick-knacks...
Keep up the good work!