Giving to Get Back...

They came with tables...

They came with blankets...

They came in droves...

This was the scene you could find last Friday at Old Orchard mall in Skokie, Illinois.  And no - these are not Springsteen fans waiting in line to buy concert tix - these people are patiently waiting (some even pulling an all nighter in the chill of the midwestern winter) in the hopes of scoring L.L. Bean gift cards being given away as part of the grand opening celebration of the retailer's newest store.  

The Motivation of Money
While Volkswagen is hoping to lure consumers into showrooms with a strangely clever ad campaign, L.L. Bean is using one of the oldest promotions in the book - handing out money just for showing up.  

In a time when economic news seems woefully bleak, the appeal of L.L. Bean gift cards was enormous, with a large crowd of people lining up for the opportunity to draw a card worth anywhere from $25 - $500. According to Greg Elder, L.L. Bean vice president for retail stores, approximately 2500 people showed up for the chance to get one of the 500 gift cards being handed out. This is very similar to what Elder sees at other store openings.

L.L. Bean gave away a total of $17,875 in gift cards that day.

And that's not the extent of the L.L. Bean's investment in the new store.

As a company that has built a strong brand by supplying affordable outdoor gear to families, L.L. Bean takes pride in its commitment to environmental conservation.  The company invested in the design of the new store to ensure that it was built to US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.  By utilizing technology and systems that increase energy efficiency, L.L. Bean reduces the store's environmental footprint.

The company has also made the choice to invest in its new neighborhood as well.  As part of the grand opening celebration for the Skokie store, L.L. Bean will contribute $25,000 to Chicago Wilderness for the Illinois Backyard Nature Center.

Giving to Get Back...
The promise of money is always a powerful motivator.  And last Friday, hundreds of consumers had all the patience in the world to wait for the money L.L. Bean was handing out.  But will it build loyalty?  L.L. Bean is banking on that...but only time will tell. 

(Photos courtesy of Chip Williams, whose work you can find at


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