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Outdoor retailer L.L Bean makes its Quebec debut

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Outdoor fashion and equipment retailer L.L. Bean opened its first store in Quebec on Friday.

Many people who waited in line for the store's grand opening in St-Bruno say they used to cross the border to Freeport, Maine, just to shop there.

"I went to Freeport each two to three years because I very much like the brand," said customer Denise Mondou, describing the brand as timeless and ageless.

That sentiment is widespread in the province, according to L.L Bean.

"Our customers here are very familiar with the product, and I think over time it felt it was best to come back to Quebec and take that step from e-commerce to the brick and mortar space," said Shirel Shayo, L.L Bean Canada's director of retail.

Salesperson Annick Ricard-Perras says customers come back because of the clothing's quality, especially in the era of fast fashion.

"In order to have good quality products, you have to be willing to invest," said Ricard-Perras.

Ahead of the grand opening, L.L Bean launched a French website, which it credits with increasing sales by nearly 20 per cent.

"Translating the website, we know for a lot of brands in all categories is a major endeavour and something that often holds back their expansion into Quebec because that's what's required of them," said retail strategist Carl Boutet.

At a time when many retailers are choosing to focus on online sales, the company says its customers still want to get up close and personal with the merchandise.

Another L.L Bean store is set to open in Boisbriand on September 29. 

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