Over the years his business grew into the huge company it is today. In fact, estimated sales for L.L. Bean in 2011 are about $1.5 billion!!!
For collectors of antique tackle, there's a lot of Bean merchandise out there just floating around at garage sales & flea markets. The Bean company didn't make their own tackle & so some rods & reels labeled LL Bean are actually made by some of the companies that collectors like to buy.
In the 1920's, a reel marked "Bean's Special" was actually made by the Montague City Rod Company. LL Bean continued to carry Montague City made tackle well into the late 1930's.
Around 1940, Bean introduced their "Double-L" line of rods & reels. The first of these rods were actually made by the famous rod maker Gene Edwards (when he was in Bristol). After WWII, the "Double -L's" were being made by Bill Phillipson, who continued to make these rods for Bean into the 1970's.
So if you see an old LL Bean rod or reel, don't just assume it's not collectible. It just might be a gem of a rod or reel in disguise.
Congratulations to everyone at LL Bean for making it to the century mark!!