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L.L. Bean closes flagship store to remember Leon Gorman

Leon Gorman, third generation at L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean, the All-American fashion retailer based in Maine, has closed its 24-hour flagship store to remember third-generation family member Leon Gorman, who died this month from cancer. The philanthropist and businessman was 80.

It is the third time the chain’s Freeport store has closed since its all-hours service started in 1951. The two other occasions were the deaths of US president John F Kennedy and the company’s eponymous founder, L.L. Bean.

Gorman stood down as chairman of the family business in 2013, passing the reins to his nephew Shawn Gorman. He had led the family business for 46 years, first as president and CEO, then becoming chairman in 2001.

Under his leadership the company grew from a $2.5 million mail-order retailer to a more than $1.5 billion business employing over 5,000 staff. Gorman remained chairman emeritus until his death.

He was also a conservationist – a fitting cause given the fashion retailers’ connection with the outdoors. Just last year, Gorman and his wife donated Lane’s Island to the state of Maine as a conservation site for bald eagles, waterfowl and other birdlife.

He was also engaged with The Nature Conservancy, and in 1990 went to Mount Everest with US, Soviet and Chinese climbers to clear debris left by previous expeditions – a peace initiative to mark two decades of Earth Day.

Around 500 people gathered for a memorial service for Gorman over the weekend. A portrait of him with his two springer spaniels was placed beside the casket.

L.L. Bean started in 1912 with just one product – the iconic L.L. Bean boot (originally called the Maine Hunting Shoe). But company founder Bean soon branched out into ammunition, backpacks, firearms, tents, and the clothing line, which is now L.L. Bean’s primary revenue stream.

The company had been founded as a mail order business, which stood it in good stead for the digital era, when it transitioned into an online retailer.

It has 30 physical locations, and its flagship store has been 24/7 operation since 1951, when fishermen and hunters used to browse the shop at all hours for supplies.

Gorman is survived by his wife, Lisa, five children, and several grandchildren. 

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