I’ve always been curious how my hometown retailer, LL Bean, managed to succeed in Japan, one of the world’s most difficult and unforgiving retail markets for foreign firms. How did the Freeport retailer wind up, back in the 1990s, opening stores in this country halfway around the world before it had even opened one anywhere else outside of Maine? How does it have 28 there now, when it hasn’t yet opened one in Canada?
During my recent trip to Japan, I finally had a chance to find out. The unlikely story is in this week’s Maine Sunday Telegram, and features a chance encounter with an 11 foot tall self-propelled Maine Hunting Shoe at the center of the world’s largest city.
I last wrote from Japan 12 years ago, for Grist on why that country still wants to eat whales.