May 23, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The news that L.L. Bean’s outlet store in Fayetteville is changing into a retail store has been widely discussed by local residents, but a new addition to the story came out last week that the store transition may create an opportunity for the village of Cazenovia to join its “brand” with that of one of the largest outdoor apparel and equipment companies in the world.
L.L. Bean is currently looking at three potential locations to host one of its Outdoor Discovery Schools — and Cazenovia Lake is on the list.
“They’re interested specifically in Gypsy Bay and Lakeland Park,” said Trustee Jim Joseph, who has been in contact with L.L. Bean representatives and presented the possible opportunity to the board at its May 20 special meeting.
The company is currently looking to start its outdoor program just with kayaking activities, but said they may later expand to fly-fishing, archery and snowshoeing, Joseph said. “It will grow. I’m convinced it will grow,” he said.
The question he was bringing before the board that night, Joseph said, was whether or not the trustees wanted to pursue this possible partnership with L.L. Bean.
L.L. Bean has 18 retail stores outside their Maine headquarters and 11 outlets in locations throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic region. The company’s annual sales surpass $1.5 billion.
L.L. Bean retail store locations have Outdoor Discovery Schools that offer demonstrations, clinics and introductory hands-on activities for their customers such as kayaking, fly casting, clay shooting, archery, biking and canoeing. The company currently has discovery schools in 17 towns and cities in states such as Maine, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois and New Hampshire. The only other school destinations in New York state are in Victor, Albany and Yonkers.
The company announced in late April that its outlet store in Fayetteville Towne Center, which opened in 2007, will be converted to a full retail store on June 7. They are making the change because of the large number of catalog and Web customers in the area and the “demonstrated high degree of affinity the local community has for L.L.Bean, its brand and its reputation,” according to a company press release.
Ken Kacere, senior vice-president and general manager of retail at L.L.Bean, said at that time that one of the more notable aspects of the Fayetteville store transformation would be the inclusion of an Outdoor Discovery School.
A typical Kayaking Discovery Course offered by the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery School is advertised as offering expert instructors to teach basic kayaking paddling techniques and safety skills as a way to try out the sport. After brief introductions and a safety talk, participants set out in a solo, recreational kayak to enjoy a guided, interpretive tour, learning about the ecosystem and history of the area.
In addition to Cazenovia Lake, L.L. Bean representatives also are considering Oneida Lake and Jamesville Reservoir as potential locations for the local discovery school, and both of those relevant municipalities are actively lobbying to be chosen, Joseph said.
The trustees were abuzz with the possibility of connecting the village to such a well-known and well-loved brand as L.L. Bean. They see Cazenovia’s beauty, character and rich outdoor activity offerings as a clear positive for L.L. Bean, while also anticipating an L.L. Bean program in Cazenovia would benefit the village through increased tourism, higher visibility and more downtown shoppers.
Trustee Peggy Van Arnam said having such a program at Lakeland Park would help enliven the downtown area and local businesses; Trustee Amy Mann said there could be possibilities of connecting the programs to the village’s summer rec program or the use of Carpenter’s Barn; Joseph said the influx of visitors from L.L. Bean activities could also have positive impacts on Cazenovia Preservation Foundation trail use and Cazenovia Area Community Development Association endeavors.
“Tell them there’s an interest, and where there’s a will there’s a way,” Mayor Kurt Wheeler told Joseph. “Their interests and our interests intersect here.”
Joseph said he would convey the message and report back to the board once he received further details from L.L. Bean.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.