Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FREEPORT — The Orvis Co., the fly-fishing specialty retailer, plans to open an outlet store later this month in Freeport, just steps away from rival L.L. Bean.
Orvis, based in Manchester, Vt., already operates 10 outlet stores, including one in Kittery. It has 60 traditional retail stores.
The store will be located at 24 Bow St., just a block from L.L. Bean’s retail headquarters, a 200,000-square-foot, multi-store campus with a dedicated hunting and fishing section. Orvis will take over an empty 10,000-square-foot store that had previously been a Brooks Brothers outlet.
Orvis sells fly-fishing equipment, as well as clothing, gifts, dog beds and home furnishings – many of the same products also sold across the street at L.L. Bean.
“L.L. Bean owns the town. They are the mainstay, the anchor in town. But Freeport has great demographics for us,” said Don Benasich, Orvis’ senior manager of outlets and events. “It’s a great market with all the tourists. Our core demographic shops there and we’ve wanted to be there.”
Fly-fishing gear may be Orvis’ heritage, but that is its lowest category in terms of sales volume, Benasich said. The company now sells more clothing, pet products and home furnishings than it does fishing equipment, he said.
Unlike other outlet stores in Freeport, many of which manufacture goods specifically for the outlet locations, Orvis will offer discontinued and unsold products from its main retail stores and catalogs, Benasich said. The outlet will feature some fly rods, but will boast more apparel and houseware items than fishing gear.
“We’re a self-liquidator,” Benasich said. “Items from our catalog and retail store will be filtered down to the outlet store and allow customers to enjoy the discount.”
L.L. Bean said on Thursday it welcomed the arrival of Orvis, saying Freeport was a great destination for retailers.
“Maine is the outdoors. We love the opportunity to sell outdoors products. The more the merrier,” said L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem. “A rising tide floats all boats.”
Customers on Thursday said they did not expect the arrival of Orvis to pose a huge threat to L.L. Bean’s dominance in town.
“L.L. Bean used to be just what you see here – fishing gear, the Bean boots and the bags. It has more of a homegrown feel,” said Andrew Zambella, of Brick, N.J., who has family ties to Maine. “Orvis seems to be more corporate. It’s more rich people buying expensive things – that’s just my impression. Then again, L.L. Bean sells some fly rods that costs $800 and that’s without the reel.”
L.L. Bean and Orvis have been competing against each other for about a century.
Orvis was founded in 1856, while L.L. Bean came along in 1912. Orvis plans to open its Freeport outlet on July 27. The company, based in Manchester, Vt., already operates 10 outlet stores, including one in Kittery. It has 60 traditional retail stores.
Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be
contacted at 791-6316 or at