Monster outdoor retailer L.L.Bean traces its roots from the day Leon Leonwood Bean decided that what the world really needed was a good weatherproof hunting shoe. He joined a watertight gum shoe to a laced leather upper; hunters liked it; the store grew; an empire was born. Today, L.L. Bean sells millions of dollars’ worth of clothing and outdoor goods nationwide through its well-respected catalogs, and it continues to draw hundreds of thousands of customers through its doors to a headquarters building and several offshoots around town. The modern, multilevel main store is about the size of a regional mall, but it’s very tastefully done with its own indoor trout pond, a fish tank that gobsmacks kiddos, a (famous) huge Bean boot outside, and taxidermy displays around every corner. Selections include Bean’s own trademark clothing, books, shoes, and plenty of outdoor gear for camping, fishing, and hunting (and separate stores across the plaza house home goods and bike and ski gear). The staff at each store is incredibly knowledgeable—probably because Bean’s policy is to encourage staff to take the gear home and try it out themselves so they can better advise their customers.