Friday, June 19, 2009

Maine: Linda Bean's lobster dreams

If you'd like to see more of the benefits of Maine-caught seafood accrue to Mainers, you may be interested in my profile of Linda Bean in the July issue of Down East.

Bean, granddaughter of the founder of L.L. Bean, is building Maine's first complete, vertically-integrated lobster company, one that buys lobster (and sells fuel and bait at cost) from its docks, processes it at its own Maine-based plants, and sells it under its own brand (at supermarkets) and at its own national chain of takeout restaurants.

The article explores why Bean -- who has no prior background in seafood and could do whatever she wants -- is jumping into the lobster fishery (she's a passionate champion of primary resource harvesters) and how it fits in with her very conservative politics. (Bean twice ran for U.S. Congress, spearheaded the effort to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in Maine, founded a conservative statewide news magazine in the 80s, and still plays a significant behind-the-scenes role in Maine and national politics.)

The piece isn't available online, but New Englanders can find it on most newsstands for the next three or four weeks. [UPDATE: 11/17/09. The full piece is now online.]

One small correction: I write on page 88 that her mother, Hazel (May) Bean (now Dyer), pioneered L.L. Bean's ladies department in the 60s and 70s. That was actually her aunt, Hazel (June) Bean, her mother's sister-in-law. (Yes: two of L.L Bean's sons married women named Hazel!) Linda's mother didn't play a role in the ladies department, but she still sits on L.L. Bean's board.


  1. Fortunately, I was able to read this article on Linda Bean while visiting friends in Maine and discovered that she fights against everything I fight for. I fear that purchasing from LL Bean will ultimately fund Linda Bean's conservative causes and thus I no longer purchase anything from this company.

  2. That's probably technically the case, although if we assume that each board member gets an equal cut of your purchase, more money probably flows to liberal causes than to conservative ones. (And if you're concerned about what your money supports, you'd best do some research on the political donations of whomever you buy from instead.)

  3. Linda L. Bean is VERY Anti Gay. Beware

  4. LL Bean will lose more and more customers as she ties herself to that organization. Bean isn't her real last name.

    1. I'm pretty sure Bean is in fact her birth name. She's been married a couple times, so went by Folkes and other names in the past, but she's as Bean as anyone else in the family.