L.L.Bean, the retailer based in Freeport, Maine, has long had a lock on summer.

In fact, about 107 years before “direct brands” became a digital driver of commerce, L.L.Bean was beginning to demonstrate that a single product could empower a global retail brand. And its “Bean Boots” have been a staple of outdoor recreation ever since.

The Maine Hunting Boot – or the “Bean Boot”, as it’s known to outdoor enthusiasts all over the world – was developed in a single room (the site of the current 220,000-sq. ft retail “campus” that’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and attracts more than three million visitors every year).

When Leon Lemonwood Bean felt he had a product ready for the rest of the world, he obtained a list of non-resident Maine hunting-license holders, created a piece of direct mail, set up a shop in his brother’s Freeport basement, and started a nationwide mail-order business.