My boyfriend is hard to buy gifts for. Not because he “has everything”–in fact, it’s just the opposite. He makes an effort to shop ethically, which, mostly means not supporting brands that use sweatshop labor. For the first year or so of our relationship this meant he mostly shopped at second-hand stores or bought things made in America. That’s not easy these days. But over the past few years a handful of brands have made their way onto his “approved” list, and–for whatever reason–they are mostly outdoorsy brands, like Patagonia, that have a commitment to the environment and the workers in their factories.
L.L.Bean is one of those brands. There’s a store not far from my home, and at first, he was skeptical. He knew the company makes their Bean boots in Maine, but couldn’t quite wrap his mind around how the company keeps prices reasonable without exploitative labor practices. Then he had the chance to ask an actual employee, who explained that because Bean doesn’t sell merchandise through third parties and goes direct to consumers it can keep its prices down. Meanwhile, it stays committed to making some of its most popular products in the U.S. Continue reading