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Bean scene: Crowds flock to retailer's grand opening

The masses started lining up at 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13.

They wanted to be the first into New York's first and only L.L. Bean store.

Some had traveled more than 150 miles to be there and were glad to fall in with the more than 1,000 people who waited outside for the sporting goods retailer at Colonie Center to open at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 14.

By the time we opened the doors at 9 a.m., we counted about 1,200 people. We were not expecting this, said Laurie Brooks, company spokeswoman.

L.L. Bean executives had made the trek from the company's headquarters in Maine last week. They have been to eight grand openings, Colonie Center was the second one this year. It was by far and away one of the most anticipated and well-received openings, they said.

Earlier in the week, company officials wined and dined local business people, environmental advocates and town officials. It was the first opportunity to catch a glimpse of the finished store.

"I couldn't be prouder. For L.L. Bean to come here to Colonie Center, to the town of Colonie is a dream come true," said Supervisor Mary Brizzell.

She stated that her winter catalog had recently arrived in the mail, but she would not need it now that the company has set roots in the Capital District. It set those roots quickly and deeply.

Ken Kacere, senior vice president and general manger of retail for L.L. Bean, presented Albany Pine Bush Preservation Commission Executive Director Chris Hawver with a commemorative paddle. The company donated $30,000 to the commission as well as equipment to be used at its newly opened Discovery Center.

It's the 95th anniversary of the outdoor living retail giant. The company admittedly went out on a limb to become one of the handful of new restaurants and retailers that have made Colonie Center their home as a multi-million dollar renovation wraps up.

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