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LL Bean to leave Burlington for Williston

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 2:02 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Outdoor retailer L.L. Bean will leave its location in Burlington and open a store in Williston.

The Finney Crossing developer says L.L. Bean will be going into a new 15,000-square-foot building between Healthy Living and the Union Bank. It’s set to open next summer.

Finney Crossing says they’re excited the retailer will set up shop in Williston.

CityPlace developer Don Sinex confirmed L.L. Bean in Burlington will vacate its location. Sinex said the retailer experienced high rates of organized theft at the Burlington location, much higher than at its other locations.

I spoke with Burlington Business Association President Kelly Devine about the problem. Devine attributes this organized theft to drug abuse.

“One of the problems that unfortunately we had in Burlington is organized retail theft. When L.L. Bean first came here, folks remember they had a policy of they take anything back. They had to change that policy for this store. But there are people who are taking advantage of them by organizing them to steal large quantities of goods to fuel them for their habit,” Devine said.

That’s not the only problem the store has faced at the downtown Burlington location. L.L. Bean is right next to the CityPlace mall construction which has been held up due to lack of funding and lawsuits.

Devine tells us L.L. Bean had expected the project to go forward so they could utilize their mall entrance.

Sinex says there are already plans in the works to redevelop the old BTC mall from Church Street to the new St. Paul Street. But those plans won’t begin until construction starts on the first phase of the CityPlace project.

“As for the impact to BTC, the L.L. Bean move will put further financial strain on the old mall already suffering tremendously and in my opinion, this will be the final nail in its casket,” Sinex said in an email.

Locals who use the Burlington location say L.L. Bean leaving is a loss to the community.

“I just went in the store to find out the details where they’re moving to and they said Williston near Friendly’s and they’re going to be on the bus line which is a good thing because I take the bus,” said Kimberly Clark of Burlington.

“I’m glad they’re in Burlington because I wouldn’t have come to this store unless they’re Burlington. If it’s in Williston, I’m very much an, if-it’s-convenient-for-me, I’ll-go-there shopper,” said Cleo Flemming of Burlington.

In a statement, L.L. Bean told WCAX News, “We will relocate our operations and employees from Burlington to Williston as we evolve our store formats in order to provide the best shopping experience for our Vermont customers. We appreciate the loyalty our employees and customers have shown to us in Burlington over the past seven years and look forward to reopening in Williston next year.”

We also reached out to the Burlington mayor’s office but did not hear back before this story was published.

L.L. Bean has been at the Burlington mall since November 2014.

We're excited to announce that L.L.Bean is coming to Williston. We've begun construction on a new store that will reside...

Posted by Finney Crossing on Friday, July 23, 2021

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