On February 9, 2013, we had a weather event with high tides, snow, and street flooding. I put on my old pair of Maine Hunting Shoes and took a trip outside to assess the damage. I didn’t stay out very long because cold water seeped into my boots and my feet were quickly soaked. I went back into The Coop and posted a question on Facebook.
“Will L.L. Bean resole my Maine Hunting Shoes?”
I got a quick flurry of responses; more than 20 people responded with accurate information. Yes, L.L. Bean would resole my Maine Hunting Shoes, also known as “Bean Boots.” There was some debate as to whether the lifetime warranty would apply.
A few weeks ago, I stopped into L.L. Bean and dropped off my boots.
Everyone is friendly at L.L. Bean. The customer service representative who took my information even asked me if there was anything defective about these boots. Her implied question was “do you think L.L. Bean should repair these boots for free?”
They would have, if I’d said “Yes.”
I laughed and said, “No, I’ve had those boots since 1982; I think the sole has done its job.
I was charged $39, which I paid for with one of the two L.L. Bean gift cards I got for Christmas. When finished, my boots would be shipped back to me, free of charge.
Digging around in some old papers the other day, I found an article I wrote in 1982 for the high school paper, The Greyhound Flash. I called it “A Place Called L.L. Bean.” The store was much different in 1982 than the well-manicured outdoors campus and retail anchor it has become. In 1982, it was an old building with one wide flight of stairs. I told a lie in my article, saying “I had been to L.L. Bean many times before.” The truth was more like this:
“I had never been to L.L. Bean before. My father wasn’t a hunter and until The Official Preppy Handbook was published in 1980, I had no need for rubber-soled leather boots and Norwegian sweaters. L.L. Bean was the place where some of my friends’ parents worked. Our next door neighbor stitched moccasins for them from home.”
Because I wanted to “fit in” when I got to college, I saved my summer job money and bought a pair of Maine Hunting Shoes before loading up the station wagon for the University of Maine at Orono. I opted for the brown leather instead of the tan and they survived many miles of walking across campus. They also survived standing in beer at a keg party at Alpha Gamma Rho (the agricultural fraternity) and muddy visits to the Hyland arboretum. One day, I made up the following marketing line for them:
“The Preppy scene is at L.L. Bean, where everything is pink and green.”
After graduation, other boots took their place, but I kept my Bean Boots tucked away in my closet, just in case.
Time passed and L.L. Bean became a bigger part of my life. The store grew and many of my family and friends went to work for them. L.L. Bean was one of my customers when I worked for The Big Corporation Up North. My ex-husband liked to hunt and fish and visit the store.
I got a job there once, too, but I ended up moving to New Hampshire instead.
Early one summer Saturday morning last year, on my mad dash for Lisbon Falls, I bought some flip-flops at L.L. Bean. Maybe I hadn’t had enough coffee that morning; when I was balancing my checkbook later in the day, I noticed I had written “L.L. Baumer” in my register. It made me laugh.
My boots arrived last week with brand new soles stitched back on to the old leather uppers. New laces were included and the leather had been reconditioned, too. $39 seemed like a good deal to fix a pair of 31-year-old boots and if they last for another 31 years, they will have met their lifetime guarantee. I’ll be 80 years old.
I only have one little complaint with L.L. Bean Boots today. Rumor has it the “Bootmobile” can’t make it for the Moxie Festival Parade.
How can this be?
L.L. Baumer to L.L. Bean…we need the Bootmobile for the parade on July 13. Call Gina…please and thank you!