We did our annual trek there to buy the kids their backpacks and lunch boxes for the upcoming school year. Actually, I lie. We do an annual trek at this time of year to prep for school, but the last two years, we haven't bought backpacks or lunch boxes. The quality of Bean's packs is so good that we get two the three years out of them. My oldest son's bag is still in great shape, but is simply too small for him to use any longer now that he has to not only cart actual books back and forth, but also gym clothes and other sporting gear. So he needed the big, bad boy bag this time.
I love Bean's. I love their products. I love the atmosphere they create on their campus. For those that haven't been, LL Bean has its flagship store in Freeport, Maine. In it, are all their clothing and shoes for men, women and children. An addition was put on a few years ago attaching the hunting and fishing merchandise area to the store. The two areas are connected by a long hallway that is home to a huge fish tank.
The tank has an observation bubble built into the bottom. It is designed for kids to be able to crawl down and into to see all the fish up close. I however, did what a lot of adults do and crawled down as well and took a picture from inside. One fish thought the flash was quite interesting.
Last winter, I had to take my youngest son up to get a new pair of boots. He somehow managed to run so fast through the woods, that he impaled a stick right through the front of his boot and between his two toes. Knowing that LL Bean stands by their guarantee and would replace the boots, we headed up and he crawled into the bubble. No matter how often we go, he is still amazed by it.
One word of warning. Your patience as a parent and a human being can be tested while trying to get in to the viewing bubble. I have raised my kids to wait their turn, not to cut in line and not to take too long as to hold up everyone else. Visiting the fish tank is evidence that 99% of other parents are not only not teaching their children these lessons, they are unaware of how to behave politely as well. If your kids wait patiently, they will have countless families cut in front of them. The fish tank brings out Lord of the Flies behavior and your children will need to adjust or wind up like Piggy. Okay, that may be extreme, but you get the idea!
In addition to the main store, LL Bean has added a home store and bike/ski shop. In the center of all of the building is a green area and parking. During the summer months, they close this parking area down on weekends and hold special events. This weekend we were fortunate enough to visit while they were hosting the Maine Rock Gym's portable rock climbing wall and bungee trampoline. My kids loved climbing the rock wall and bouncing on the trampoline.
Getting on their harnesses and listening to directions.
This kid is a monkey. I find him in trees, on top of playground equipment and on my walls.
See what I mean?
She is less of a risk taker - but still had a great time on the bungee trampoline.
He heard ice cream and decided not to climb or bounce!
We had a bit of time to kill while waiting for the backpacks to be monogrammed and the kids decided to have some fun. We got lucky and it was late enough in the day that there weren't a lot of tourists trying to take pictures, so we didn't feel guilty about taking these.
After picking up our bags, which came out great by the way, we stopped by the locked moose display in the camping area. (You can also view it from outside the front of the store now.) In 2006, Adella Jones found the locked moose on her property. While their bodies were decomposed, the antlers were in great shape. During mating season of 2005, the two moose, fighting over a female, charged each other and their antlers became entangled. They were unable to get loose and died attached to each other. For the full story, check out this report from The Sun Journal.
We have a few more weeks of summer left, but will have to head back up to LL Bean to finish up some shopping. Most likely, we will wait until September 15th & 16th and combine our shopping trip with the Fall in the Village Art Festival. After getting what we need for school, my daughter and I can check out all the various artists while the boys pick up what they need for hunting season. Fun.