Thursday, March 18, 2010

L.L.Bean University

I spent some time on the weekend up in the mid coast of Maine. I was in Hallowell, which is only an hour's drive (all made possible by the use of Kelly's car...Old Bessie -- I think I am the only one that calls her that) north of Portland. It sits right on the shores of the Kennebec River... which I took a photo of... and I apologize that it doesn't show you how beautiful it is... It was a pretty gross day.It was also the first time since I have been in the great America that I have come across a sign written in both English AND French. (I guess for some reason I never thought about Spanish being the other language here.) But, upon seeing this sign I had a great sense of pride... even though all the French I can muster is to read the ingredients on the side of a box. In any case, It was great to see a sign, meant for Canadian to read! And I did!

I was up in Hallowell to interview Jim, a member of the barbershop quartet I am documenting. He had a cozy little house on the top of the steepest hill I have ever driven up. I was afraid Old Bessie wouldn't make it. She always seems to pull through in the clutch (I hope I am using this term right... I never got into sports journalism). We did an interview, and his wife Karen made blueberry muffins, and we talked about the state of radio. And of course they named all the names of Canadians I should know. It was really nice.

On my way back to the great little peninsula I stopped in at the original L.L.Bean store. How could I not? It was noontime when I arrived, but had it been twelve hours later my experience would have been the same. It's open 24 hours! I presume, just in case every once in a while someone wakes up in the middle of the night before a camping trip and remembers all the supplies they forget to get. Or, a rainstorm hits at 2am and the roof falls in and you really really feel the need for a new Goretex rain jacket to put yourself back to sleep. Or you just HAD to see that giant rain boot one. more. time. Too literal?

The place is filled with wildlife... mostly stuffed. But there is a trout pond and a salmon aquarium. They advertise on TV about this piece of "moose artwork" that every MUST see. Apparently, they found these two moose who had been fighting and got their antlers stuck together and died in the process. So obviously L.L.Bean had to preserve it and put it on display. A taxidermist's dream... or maybe nightmare. In any case, it is apparently a very rare find, and I have to admit, one of the attractions that pulled me off the highway into Freeport, Maine.

I cannot really impress on you how big this store is... stores I should say, because it is a campus of L.L. Bean buildings. They really do overshadow the rest of Freeport's outlet shopping district. There are whole buildings devoted to Home and Garden, Bikes and Boats, Hunting and Fishing, and Retail. It is way to much to take in all at once. It is more like a day out than a stop in.

I must add this link because today Bradley (who is in my radio class) and I were commenting on the validity of this idea. L.L.Bean has come out with a Signature line. (click on the link) It seems to me to be a ploy to take the Maine out of the L.L.Bean. No lobster man would ever wear this stuff... I would... but that is against the point. At this point my mom has probably already found 3 things on the site for her wish list. The sense that I get from people around here is that Maine people wear L.L.Bean. Outside of Maine, the only people who wear it are the kind of people who have yachts (according to the friend to my right). I guess they are just trying to appeal to their new generation of customers... the ones that don't live in this state.

Sorry about the sarcasm today, I am under the weather... it changes blogging.

This is Avery and Old Bessie signing out!

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