Photo by Salt Water New England

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Portland Press Herald: Maine’s 2 major retail outlet towns chart falling sales


Reported in today's Portland Press Herald:
Both Kittery and Freeport have seen sharp sales declines in the past five years... In Freeport, the drop in sales... was... almost 20 percent, from $76 million to $61 million. <https://www.pressherald.com/2019/08/04/declining-sales-challenge-maine-outlet-towns/>

21 comments:

  1. You can’t blame everything on the internet. Having once lived across from L.L.Bean in the 90s and having stopped by Freeport regularly throughout the years:

    L.L.Bean is no longer a draw for me, maybe the same for others?

    There was a time when outlets carried actual discounted/factory seconds versus now which is a separate inferior line.

    The Polo outlet used to have incredible buys in the 90s! I bought bedding, my clothes, all kinds of goodies at a great price. Now it's fewer selections, things I’d never wear and a lot of big pony logo nonsense.

    Burberry closed sometime I think in the early 2000s which was a real draw.

    The Bass shoe (no longer Maine made) outlet (used to be two in town, now just one) are constantly having an 80%(ish) everything sale. I have had to donate the shoes I purchased because they did not hold up well for me, so I no longer shop there.

    Crabtree & Evelyn, a long-time tenant since at least the 90s recently left.

    I loved Coach bags in the 1990s when they were made in the USA and had classic styles like my Station Bag (I lost it during a move and still miss it). Their line has changed so I no longer will shop at their outlet or full retail.

    Clark shoes left Freeport and The Maine Mall, and both places had very limited sizing available.

    I won’t go on, but I will put in a plug for Brooks Brothers in Freeport. They aren’t just an outlet but also sell some of their full retail items. My husband continues to shop there and we’ve been happy with his purchases other than wishing all was made in the US/sustainably.

    How about the outlets go back to selling quality true factory second/close-out merchandise that's worth the trip?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes to all of the above, Averyl.

      Jacqueline

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  2. I am old enough to remember when “outlets” contained treasures. We shopped at CB, Bass and Timberland on skiing trips and Polo, Coach and Dooney in Reading, PA. By shopping, I mean diffing thru wooden crates to fit the right size or a matching pair of boot.

    “outlets” have been nothing but junk for years. The manufacturers produce, for the most part, a cheaply made line of goods just for the outlet stores.

    I am not surprised the sales are down.

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  3. Ditto on the "outlet line" problem. Years back I stopped at the Hickey-Freeman outlet in Kittery, handled a suit and simply pointed and looked askance at the salesman, an obvious old-line pro. He just closed his eyes and gently shook his head. No words needed.

    Over the years, it seems that almost every brand has gone to the same marketing scheme. I don't really know what I'm getting in an outlet, but I'm pretty sure it's not what they want me to THINK I'm getting.

    NCJack

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  4. No bargains at these outlets! LL Bean's retail model has sold out to a larger audience and quality and selection has suffered! Made in Maine is an after thought for that giant! LL Bean must turning over in his grave! They should stuck to quality not quantity retail model! Not seeing Orvis or Filson suffering! So endth the sermon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, enough with the “We brought back the classic anorak, but in a new modern fit.”
      New modern fit - this stupid slim fit that no one likes. Bring. Back. The. Actual. Thing.

      Delete
    2. Although I drop into Orvis now and then (less than a mile from the L.L.Bean store in Northern Virginia where I live), Orvis is much more specialized than the other stores, or so it seems to me. Filson stuff is very high quality, although fairly expensive, but it's changed a lot over the last, say, ten years. They are trying to appeal to a younger crowd and not so much to an outdoor market, much less a working man's market. For that, there's Carhartt.

      I don't think they can go back at all. Nor would they settle for being a niche market. The competition is tough. There's REI and Cabela's, for instance. The original founders and innovators of the outdoor industry have all passed on, from Gerry Cunningham, to Eddie Bauer and L.L. Bean himself. After people like that are gone, a company can go off in any direction, including down. Many high quality products used to be made here but we used to think of imported products as being of higher quality, sometimes. I personally don't think it matters as far as quality goes. The product itself should speak to that question, not where the label says it's made.

      As far as the slim fit goes, take a walk down the street sometime to see what other people are wearing now.

      Delete
  5. Reading the LLBean book right now, hey guys, go back to your old ways and watch sales soar , free returns &c....all that new stuff was a big mistake on management's part which is clearly being shown on recent drops in profits. Even a hard nosed " Down Eastener " should see that.
    Arthur E. Lloyd III

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  6. My last couple of trips to L.L. Bean have been disappointments. In their attempt to be everything to everyone, they're now less and less to anyone. Just ordinary, ugly, badly made generic merchandise. And it's not like they haven't been told over and over again to go back to what made them L.L. Bean and stop trying to satisfy Bill and Mary Flyover State Six-Pack, who get 20 catalogues a month already.

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  7. I'm thinking this is simply another manifestation of the spectrum outlined here, two years back:

    https://www.saltwaternewengland.com/2017/07/which-companies-would-you-include-on.html

    Each of the comments above — and many more that readers have thought but not made — can be mapped onto the diagram in that post. Read it and weep.

    (Bottom line, however, is that nothing is forever.)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, many of us have felt it, thought it, said it before, for several years now. We're just still grieving the loss of a once fine American company.
    I felt the winds of change blowing the wrong way when Beans came out with that "Signature" nonsense...R.I.P.

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  9. I don't think the old days are coming back and I don't expect to find an in-store bargain these days . Quality is disappearing fast in the clothing market , which disturbs me far more than pricing/availability . Everything I've stocked up on will probably last me ten years , and then I've had it ! :-(

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  10. The old stuff was so well made that I don’t have to shop for anything but socks and underwear

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    Replies
    1. Exactly Sheldon which is why corporations chose cheap shoddy outsourced manufacturing over quality- forcing us to purchase more frequently. If it were not for all the shoddy products, we would have no economy at all! Frankly, I think it's truly immoral to manufacture 'disposable' products that end up polluting the earth in a multitude of ways.

      Delete
  11. The magic that was L.L. Bean was that with such solid quality and dependable customer service, price was unimportant. You were only going to buy that one item once, maybe twice in your lifetime. Walking into the store as a Mainer, I always felt a peculiar pride of ownership that this brand belonged to my state. I never returned a worn out item that I felt I had gotten proper use out of because how do you look an employee in the eye and tell them that the backpack you purchased 30 years ago in 1978 has disappointed you with its frayed edges and slumping structure? But so many did. It became currency among the masses. Want something new? Dig out something from Beans and return it. I never knew how they could afford to overlook that segment of their customer base who considered one purchase the golden ticket to limitless trade-ups. And I guess they couldn't. Something had to give, and sadly, it did.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you about the exploitation of the return policy.

      However, the changes that have occurred under the new CEO have quickly degraded Bean to the level of a bargain basement Walmart or Dick's Sporting Goods. The styles and colors are so ugly and the manufacturing is so poor that the clothing doesn't even look good on the models. I had to purchase another XL tote today with my Bean Bucks and thought I would check out their sweaters. I was truly shocked to see a model wearing a funnel neck cotton sweater that was literally hanging off of her, sleeves way too long past her fingers and she looked as if she had been drenched in a thunderstorm. She looked so homely and pathetic. I saw the same model wearing a pair of sloppy baggy knit pants.

      It's obvious that LL Bean's goal is to appeal to customers who only purchase brands with logos.

      As of now, the only items I will purchase are the canvas boat totes. I use them for storage, filing, shopping and hauling wood.

      Delete
    2. Yes to totes and also their made in the USA 100% down pillows I've been using for years which they still sell.

      Delete
  12. The outlets in the UK used to be superb. You could buy seconds, samples or ex-retail/last season goods for real bargain prices. Then they started selling lower quality goods and tried to pass them off as ex-retail, most of it had never seen the retail stores. Now they are past the point of lying, they actually label their goods 'made for outlet' or 'outlet exclusive'. At least they're honest, they're telling us it's purpose made, cheap junk!

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  13. Still a tried and true LL Beaner for the basics.

    I don't do outlet malls. They are a gimmick and joke. People who shop there are suckers.

    If you want true honest to goodness quality and craftsmanship, shop vintage and resale. These days it is the only way, until capitalism screws it up--looking at you Goodwill.

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  14. Some outlets are good. In the German-speaking countries we like a brand of shirts and blouses from a brand called Seidensticker and the prices are much better in the outlets! Salzburg has a very nice outlet mall, very upscale, with very easy access to the airport.

    Coach-- if they went back to the old classics I'd shop there, but the things they currently make are awful.

    L.L. Bean- not as good as they used to be. Not happy with the changes they have made in terms of business practices, styles, etc. They cannot be relied on for certain basics that used to be standard. Also due to their new shipping charges I don't make smaller purchases there that I might have made in the past.


    -EM

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    Replies
    1. Although I lived in Germany for almost two years, I hadn't heard of that brand. However, I see that it is available on-line from Frankonia.

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