MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – L.L.Bean customers in Minnesota no longer need to shop online for the popular outdoor gear.
The retailer opened its first store west of the Mississippi on Friday in the Mall of America.
The new store is located in the southeast corner of the mall, in the old Bloomingdale’s location.
Friday’s grand opening had the look and feel of the Black Friday rush.
There were long lines, frantic shoppers and customers making big purchases.
“I’ve got new slippers, I’ve got rain gear, I’ve got a couple pair of shoes,” said Sam Nichols of Minneapolis as he waited in the checkout line.
But there was one major difference in this shopping rush: Customers weren’t cashing in on deep discounts.
“Nothing’s even on sale,” said Sandra Warfield of Savage. “It’s just everyone waiting in line to get the stuff.”
Shoppers showed up to see the catalog retailer’s brick-and-mortar opener.
“It’s more convenient to try it on and walk out with it, so I’m excited to have them here,” Nichols said.
Store manager Tony Benz agreed.
“Really, the big thing about coming to the store is you get to touch and feel the products,” he said.
The lines for the grand opening started early.
Karen Barneck of Zimmerman showed up two hours before the doors opened.
Turned out, it was worth the wait. The first 200 shoppers got a gift card, and Karen’s was worth $500.
“I was amazed,” she said. “I don’t usually win, I don’t have the luck, but today was the perfect day, so I’m excited.”
In store, customers have access to items sold out or unavailable online like the L.L.Bean boot, a huge seller.
“I think it’s the trend,” Warfield said. “It’s all the rage right now, and it’s practical.”
But demand came at a cost, with some customers waiting in checkout lines for over an hour.
“When I tried to leave the store,” Warfield said, “[they told me] that they won’t be online until after Christmas, so, you’ve got to stand in line.”
Still, weeks away from the holiday rush, and L.L.Bean’s shopping season is well underway.
“I’ve still got more to spend, and I don’t know what to do next,” Barneck said.
This is also a big win for the Mall of America, which has been trying to bring in the catalog retailer for the last several years.
With the departure of Bloomingdale’s, the mall had the space available to open the nearly 30,000 square foot store.