May 11, 2017

The Boston Globe


Camping in Seaport? L.L. Bean to open store in neighborhood

You might not picture the great outdoors when you think of Boston’s Seaport District, but L.L. Bean wants to change that.

The iconic Maine retailer will open a store next spring in the fast-growing neighborhood, which is so far dominated by office buildings and a convention center. The store will include outdoor activity classes, which will offer customers kayaking and paddleboarding activities along the South Boston Waterfront.

L.L. Bean already operates a kiosk in the Prudential Center mall. But the Seaport store will be the company’s first full store in an urban setting, said Ken Kacere, the company’s vice president of retail.

“The Seaport became something we thought about because there’s a trend of people moving back into cities,” Kacere said.

The company is using Boston as a test market to determine whether it should open urban stores in other markets, Kacere said. Boston was a good place to start, he said, because of the company’s New England ties.

At 8,600 square feet, the Seaport shop will be among the smallest of L.L. Bean’s 37 open or planned stores. Its biggest in Massachusetts is about 31,000 square feet, in Burlington. And its campus of flagship stores in Freeport, Maine, total 220,000 square feet.

The smaller size in Boston will require the company to present a “really curated supply of our products,” Kacere said, with a focus on attire that will appeal to a more urban crowd. As an example, he cited the company’s Traverse line of clothing, which is designed to be worn both in the office and on the trails.

The store will be L.L. Bean’s fifth in Massachusetts, following openings in Dedham, Burlington, and Mansfield. A 20,000-square-foot store in Mashpee is also expected to open this fall.

The Boston store will be part of the giant mixed-use Seaport Square development, on the first floor of a block that will also house a movie theater and bowling alley. The full Seaport Square will encompass 20 blocks, with housing, office, and retail space.

Yanni Tsipis, vice president of WS Development, which owns much of Seaport Square and is in charge of its retail leasing, said the company is being “very selective” about tenants. L.L. Bean is the first consumer goods store announced for Seaport Square. Other retail tenants include Shake Shack, Showcase Icon cinemas, and Kings Bowl.

WS Development has leased to L.L. Bean elsewhere, including at Legacy Place in Dedham and Mansfield Crossing in Mansfield.

By Adam Vaccaro

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