L.L. Bean just unveiled a brand new factory in its bid to make 1 million Bean Boots a year
Bean Boot mania, it seems, will not abate any time soon.
This year, however, there is some good news for fans of the unique rubber boot that is celebrated for its weatherproof qualities.
L.L. Bean last year said they made 3,000 pairs a day and surpassed 600,000 pairs sold — a new record. Over the past two years, the factories in Maine that make the boots have been working nearly 24/7 — three shifts, six days a week — in an attempt to meet holiday demand.
The waiting list has stretched to the tens of thousands in previous years, but this year all boot models are still on hand as of August. It's still early, but L.L. Bean has produced a greater variety of the boot than in previous seasons, including a number of "small batch" models, so it's possible some boots won't sell out this year.
L.L. Bean is estimating they'll sell 750,000 bean boots this year, and in 2018 the company is hoping that number balloons to 1 million, according to the AP.
To ensure demand is met L.L. Bean pulled off the wraps of a third manufacturing facility on Thursday — a 106,000-square-foot facility in Lewiston, Maine. The company will hire 160 new works to man the facility.
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Part of the reason for the backlog is the shoe's "it" status, combined with its laborious manufacturing process — which, for many of the boot's components, is still done by hand.
"We realize we could outsource, but that will never happen," McKeever told Bloomberg two years ago. "The boots have been hand-sewn in Maine by our own skilled boot workers, and they always will be."
So why are the 100-year-old boots so popular? There are a few reasons:
- Legacy products are hot right now. Consumers — especially millennials — connect to the product's history and bulletproof track record. The Bean Boot dates back to 1911, when brand founder Leon Leonwood Bean sold his Maine Hunting Shoe, which the Bean Boot descended from.
- A slightly goofy aesthetic is back in style. The all-American boots fall into the still-going-strong "normcore" trend that's popular among young urbanites. It's also a super-distinctive style that everyone can and will recognize on your foot.
- The boots are an incredible value. The most basic model is only $120, and it comes with L.L. Bean's unconditional satisfaction guarantee, meaning you can return the boots at any time for virtually any reason.
- Speaking of bulletproof, that's exactly what Bean Boots are. They're known to be completely flawless from a functionality perspective. Many owners see the boots perform for decades without requiring replacement.
After all, the fact that the boots are still hand-sewn in Maine at a reasonable price point is precisely the reason they're in such high demand. Though the scarcity may be sending some customers to less in-demand brands, it certainly hasn't hurt the Bean Boot, NPD Group chief retail analyst Marshal Cohen told the Boston Globe.
"It adds to the lore and the beauty of getting the boot," Cohen said. "It's the smartest strategy you can possibly employ."
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