FREEPORT — Several times a day, a feeding frenzy erupts in L.L. Bean’s flagship store.

Within a 24-foot-long, 3,500-gallon aquarium, two dozen fish vie for food pellets that fall from an unseen hand. Standing over the tank – in a small, out-of-sight room behind a wall of submerged boulders – is longtime fish caretaker David Anderson.

Anderson, 53, has been a custodian and maintenance worker at Freeport’s largest store for 18 years.

Six years ago, Anderson began caring for the fish – a variety of trout and salmon – in the aquarium and nearby indoor pond. Currently, there are 48 fish in the store, split evenly between the two locations.

Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife provides the fish to the store, where they stay for about two years. Afterward, they are transferred to local ponds as stock fish and new fish arrive to the store.

In the meantime, Anderson cleans the aquarium once a week by scrubbing its rock wall, vacuuming debris and polishing the glass.

For Anderson, the best part of his job is “taking care of the fish. I enjoy being the person who’s responsible for them.”


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