May 29, 2011

Author Q & A: L.L. keen

Lewiston writer James L. Witherell pens a friendly new biography of Maine legend L.L. Bean and the company that bears his name.

By Tom Atwell
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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James L. Witherell of Lewiston


THE BOOK LAUNCH party for "L.L. Bean: The Man and his Company" will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 29 at Freeport Community Library, 10 Library Drive. The library number is 865-3307

A: They are definitely on good footing now. They had a good year last year, as shown by their sales figures. It has always been the heritage and the reputation of the company for its 100-percent guarantee, and for a long time -- and now it is back again -- the free shipping. Being in Maine is a big plus for the company, because that means honesty and integrity and hard work for a lot of people. 

Q: And they had some good luck too, with such things as "The Official Preppy Handbook," didn't they?

A: Fashion is cycled, and every once in a while, fashion will come around to something that Bean happened to be selling. The company sales grew 40 percent that year, one of those flash-in-the-pan things. Leon Gorman didn't like the preppy thing, even in hindsight, saying, "That is not what we stand for." His comment was that we always sold the steak, but now we have to sell the sizzle and the steak. But he knew that was not something they could survive on in the long run. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am not sure how far it is going to go, but it seems like I like 100th anniversaries, and the 100th anniversary of Edmund Muskie's birth is coming up in a few years. I am halfway through a bunch of files on him. If a publisher comes up with a better idea and says, "Why don't you do this," then I'll do that. There doesn't seem to be a lot of excitement from anyone about Ed Muskie right now.

Staff Writer Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:


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