Build a bear fiasco

Table of Contents

Bears Retire Too! HorseEdit

Build-a-Bear Workshop has seen many animals come and go. The ones that are no longer available are dubbed “Retired”, meaning they no longer make this animal.

Following is a list of the animals which are currently retired organized according to the year they were released.


Curly BearEdit

Released October of 1997

Black BearEdit

Released October of 1997

Curly BunnyEdit

Released October Of 1997

Floppy FrogEdit

Released October of 1997

Floppy CowEdit

Released October Of 1997

Floppy DalmatianEdit

Released October of 1997

Floppy BearEdit

Released October of 1997

Vintage BearEdit

Released October of 1997

Chubby CubbyEdit

Released October of 1997

Shaggy DogEdit

Released October of 1997

Shaggy BearEdit

Released October of 2018

I’mnot retired hah gotty

Released October of 1997

Appeared November of 2017 as Online Exclusive Only for Christmas

Polar BearEdit

Released October of 1997

Buddy BearEdit

Released October of 1997

Mink-look BearEdit

Released October of 1997

Lil’ BunnyEdit

Released October of 1997

Baby’s First PinkEdit

Released October of 1997

Baby’s First BlueEdit

Released October of 1997

Lil’ Cub ChocolateEdit

Released October of 1997

Lil’ Cub TaffyEdit

Lil’ Cub ButterscotchEdit

Released October of 1997

Floppy PigEdit

Released October of 1997

Classic Brown Teddy Edit

Released October of 1997

Lil’ CubEdit

Released November of 1997


Floppy KittyEdit

Released May of 1998

Roly Poly PandaEdit

Released August of 1998

Floppy MooseEdit

Released October of 1998

Centenial Teddy Bear IEdit

Released November of 1998

Lil’ Luv CubEdit

Released December of 1998


Bunny Big EarsEdit

Released February of 1999

Big Brown BearEdit

Released June of 1999


Released August of 1999

Lucky KittyEdit

Released August of 1999

Perky PenguinEdit

Released October Of 1999

Floppy Pony CreamEdit

Released October of 1999

Millennium CubEdit

Released October of 1999

Floppy Pony Light BrownEdit

Released October of 1999

Valentine CubEdit

Released December of 1999


Chocolate BunnyEdit

Released January Of 2000

Lil’ O’ CubEdit

Released February Of 2000

Kuddly KoalaEdit

Released March Of 2000

Centennial Teddy Bear IIEdit

Released March Of 2000

Grizzly BearEdit

Released March Of 2000

Floppy TurtleEdit

Released April Of 2000

WWF Giant PandaEdit

Released July Of 2000

White TigerEdit

Released July Of 2000

Halloween CubEdit

Released August Of 2000

New Year BearEdit

Released October Of 2000

Kuddly KittyEdit

Released November Of 2000

Lil’ Love CubEdit

Released November Of 2000

Lil’ Bunny IIEdit

Released December 2000



Released January Of 2001

Floppy ElephantEdit

ur nan yag

Released April Of 2001

Released May Of 2001

Polar Bear IIEdit

Released May Of 2001

Grizzly Bear IIEdit

Released June Of 2001

WWF Bengal TigerEdit

Released August Of 2001

Halloween Cub IIEdit

Released August Of 2001

Black Bear IIEdit

Released August Of 2001

Hopeful Wishes TeddyEdit

Released August Of 2001

Black LabradorEdit

Released September Of 2001

Chocolate MooseEdit

Released October Of 2001

Floppy Dalmation IIEdit

Released November Of 2001

Fluffy PuppyEdit

Released November Of 2001


Building Memories, One Bear at a Time

Perhaps once in a generation an impassioned individual crafts an idea so impactful that it transforms not one but two industries, while touching the hearts of millions around the world. For today’s generation, Maxine Clark is that person and Build-A-Bear Workshop is that idea.

Maxine envisioned an interactive retail destination where kids could make personalized “furry friends.” She ultimately created something that is now called “experiential retail” which has fundamentally helped to change the way we think about shopping.

On that October Sunday in 1997 when she opened the first Build-A-Bear Workshop in the Saint Louis Galleria Mall, Guests lined up outside the door. They knew, even then, that this was something special. And they have never stopped coming. Bear by bear, store by store, market by market, and country by country, Build-A-Bear Workshop has now grown to over 400 locations worldwide.

In addition to changing retail, Maxine changed the stuffed animal toy market. How? By delivering a consistent approach to creating emotional connections with Guests through a unique high-touch service model delivered by our very important Bear Builders. The simple brilliance of stuffing your own furry friend — including our iconic and memorable “heart ceremony” — forever separated a Build-A-Bear furry friend from all others.

Millions of furry friends and more than 20 years later, Build-A-Bear Workshop has earned its rightful position, far beyond fad, as an iconic part of not just one but two generations.

Now retired as the first and only “Chief Executive Bear,” Maxine’s passion for children has been channeled to positively impact early childhood education, which will undoubtedly create yet another legacy. Find out more about our founder Maxine Clark.


Learn More

Thursday 12 July should have been a red-letter day for thousands upon thousands of kids, and for their favourite shop, Build-A-Bear Workshop. The company had announced a pay-your-age promotion, so customers in the UK, US and Canada could come in to make their own teddies and pay just a fraction of the normal cost: instead of £52 for a top-of-the-range bear, a six-year-old would pay just £6. It sounded brilliant.

What Build-A-Bear hadn’t factored in was the devotion of its young customers, and the unending human appetite for getting something cheap. Its shops were overwhelmed with huge queues wanting to take advantage. Police had to be called to help control the crowds outside the Leeds branch. Scores of shops had to close early; thousands of people left without getting in. Even some of those who did left wildly disappointed: one parent told the BBC that she and her children queued for three and a half hours to get into the Derby branch, then spent another two hours waiting to get their bears stuffed: “When I look back I will probably think, ‘What have I done that for?’ – especially with what I will end up paying for parking,” she said. The next day’s headlines contained the words no executive wants to see describing their business: “chaos”, “carnage”, “fiasco”.

You might have thought Build-A-Bear would take urgent action to ensure a different outcome when its US stores opened, hours later, but no. Ben Bigalke and his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Astrid arrived at their local Build-A-Bear Workshop in Minnesota’s Mall of America at 9.30am – 3.30pm UK time, several hours into the day of disaster. “The area around the store was completely packed with ensconced, almost camped-out customers,” he tells me by email. “The line zigzagged through the mall’s first floor and wound its way entirely through the theme park in the centre of the mall to the other side of the mall. It seemed like a quarter-mile-long line, at least. We learned later that people began camping out at 6am and there were probably more than 500 people – maybe 1,000 – in line before the store even opened. We were nowhere near the store.”

The Build-A-Bear store in Belfast, where police were called to deal with crowds who turned up for the promotion before the store had to be closed. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

In Minnesota, despite what had already happened in the UK, the events came as a complete surprise to all concerned. The Build-A-Bear store staff didn’t tell customers about how long they might be waiting, or what was happening. “I asked a security guard what to expect and they said they were upset by the situation, saying it was unexpected and that they were not prepared or even forewarned that something like that could happen,” Bigalke says. “They didn’t have any information about how many hours we could be expected to stay in line for, and I feel like they should have known. There also should have been representatives from the store telling us what was happening and what to expect.”

Pay-your-age was the first major disaster in Build-A-Bear’s 21-year history, during which time the company has usually been ahead of the game, both as a retailer and a mythmaker. It is rare that a shopping chain has an origin story – its US founder, Maxine Clark, had been shopping with a friend’s children when the little girl commented that they should make their own bears in the absence of anything new in the shops. A lightbulb went on in Clark’s head. Of course, it wasn’t quite as homespun as that: Clark was an experienced retail executive, who had worked for the May Co department store company and been president of Payless ShoeSource. She knew what she was doing.

The first part of Clark’s genius – and it was genius – was to anticipate what was to prove the most important shopping development of the internet age before it was de rigueur: experiential retailing. In summer 1998 – a year after Clark set up her first Build-A-Bear Workshop in St Louis, Missouri – Harvard Business Review published Welcome to the Experience Economy, an influential essay that set out the path ahead. “From now on, leading-edge companies – whether they sell to consumers or businesses – will find that the next competitive battleground lies in staging experiences,” wrote its authors. “An experience is not an amorphous construct; it is as real an offering as any service, good, or commodity … Businesses must deliberately design engaging experiences that command a fee. This transition from selling services to selling experiences will be no easier for established companies to undertake and weather than the last great economic shift, from the industrial to the service economy.”

This was precisely Clark’s business plan. Build-A-Bear has an eight-step process: “Choose Me, Hear Me, Stuff Me, Stitch Me, Fluff Me, Dress Me, Name Me, and Take Me Home.” Everyone who buys from one of Build-A-Bear’s 361 stores or 102 franchised shops – in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Denmark and China – has the same experience. They choose an outer skin from more than 30 options; they select a sound chip to go inside (it can be a prerecorded sound, or one they record themselves); they add in a small satin heart (the part of the process that is the most emotionally rewarding, or manipulative, depending on your point of view); they get it stuffed to “just the right amount of huggability”; they get the bear sewn up, with a unique barcode for future online participation; they get the fur fluffed; they accessorise it with clothes and extras. They give it a name to be put on a birth certificate and “passport” (I know of one parent who always takes his children’s bear passport on business trips, in order to buy something from the local Build-A-Bear Workshop and get the passport stamped). Then they are given the bear in a special carrying case to take home.

Accessories for the teddy bears make up a substantial revenue stream for Build-A-Bear. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian

“I think they did something incredibly clever,” says Corin Birchall, founder of the retail consultancy Kerching. “You pick away at the corners and there’s not actually a lot to it. But it absolutely captured kids’ imaginations and turned this commodity into a tangibly valuable product. At all retailers across the world, as the internet makes the market more global, a retailer’s job is to add tangible value to their place in the sale journey. I can’t think of another retailer that has added more value to the process. It’s just incredible how well they can monetise something that seems intangible to an adult. They were ahead of the curve in doing that.”

And, for kids, the intangible really is something magical. Nicola Hunt’s nine-year-old daughter, Jenna, has nine bears and the associated accessories – the bears are from parties and gifts, the accessories (where Build-A-Bear makes a huge chunk of its revenue) bought with birthday money. The number of accessories seems unending, all priced at what appears a reasonable level individually, but capable of mounting up: £4.50 for a pair of bear sunglasses, £14 for a tent, £8 for a sleeping bag, £2 for a headband, and on and on and on.

The queue for Build-A-Bear at the Mall Cribbs Causeway shopping centre in Bristol on 12 July. Photograph: @jonesy_lynz/Twitter/PA

While Hunt feels disquiet at the hard sell given to parents, she admires the way the staff interact with children who visit the stores. “I like the actual process of choosing a bear, I like the way they put the heart in and you give it a kiss. But the bears are overpriced, the quality isn’t good and you can’t wash them.” Nevertheless, she has seen how important her bears have been to Jenna. “She was very unwell last year and in and out of hospital,” she says. “One of the things we did was go to Build-A-Bear and get a bear to go through the process with her. That was really helpful. When she had a drip in her arm, the Build-A-Bear had a drip in its arm. There was something very special about it.”

The second part of Clark’s genius was choosing the teddy bear, a toy that has remained fundamentally unchanged since coming to the market 115 years ago. “The teddy bear has become an icon, a symbol of childhood, which is why campaigns aimed at children use the image of a bear – think of Pudsey,” says Deborah Jaffé, author of The History of Toys. “The teddy was the first really mass-produced soft toy. But it was just chance it was bear – it could have been a dog or a monkey. But a bear is a simple shape to make and doesn’t use much material. It’s not as complicated as, say, making an elephant.”

They remain popular, Jaffé says, not just because of their simplicity and sweetness – and, truthfully, who does not love a nice teddy bear? – but because animals can stand in for humans in a universal way: bears have neither race nor gender. “You get this in children’s book illustrations: in order to get round gender stereotyping or race and ethnicity, it’s easy to use the animal rather than a human form. When you put a human form in, it gets much more complicated. Mattel have had to make Barbie in lots of ethnicities – but you don’t have to do that with an animal.”

Clark had hit on the perfect combination: a universal product and a new way to sell it, and then to continue to sell. By registering each bear with a unique code before it leaves the store, Build-A-Bear gives its young customers the chance to continue participating – and spending – in the Build-A-Bear experience online once they get home: as well as buying yet more stuff, they can participate in Build-A-Bear’s world. “Our website lets children create virtual versions of themselves and their animals and interact with each other online,” Clark explained in 2013.

Even before data was such a valuable commodity, Clark had created an idea that meant Build-A-Bear knew more about its customers’ tastes than most toy retailers. As its senior marketing manager for digital explained in 2015: “We’re looking at the data from a macro level to understand whether a particular product resonates with a girl who’s four years old or 12 years old, and as you market to the mother, how do you continue to tell the mother about additional pets or accessories and fashions? We’re starting to get into this from a digital perspective with our loyalty members where we have that type of data collection because they chose the option of us continuing to market to them on a one-to-one basis.”

Kaleigh Arnett-Harris, eight, of Denver, celebrates being next in line. Photograph: Joe Amon/Denver Post via Getty Images

By the time Clark stepped down as CEO in 2013, the company had generated $5bn (£3.8bn) in sales. It also continued to expand its “experiential offering”. As Clark’s reign drew to a close, it was introducing “HyperSound directional audio technology” into some of its stores, which would let Build-A-Bear run multiple interactive kiosks within its shops, offering a specific audio message to customers. Directional audio is yet another of the techniques used by retailers to try to prolong time in-store and increase the amount they spend. Or, as the website Retail Customer Experience put it: “By using directional audio retailers can create an immersive 3D sound environment confined to a specific area … Those outside of the zone don’t hear the sound, and for the shopper the experience is similar to wearing headphones, except they aren’t wearing headphones … The memorable experience delivered via directional audio adds a ‘wow’ factor that increases the effectiveness of advertising messages, ultimately leading to increased sales.”Fearing kids were being lost to screens, it partnered with Samsung to place interactive stations in shops, so customers could build their bears without any of the burdensome physical or personal interaction of the traditional experience.

Build-A-Bear teddy shells at its New York store. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

But times aren’t necessarily easy for Build-A-Bear. It made a loss in 2013, when Clark left, before bouncing back into profit. Its 2017 annual report notes that total revenues have declined year-on-year since 2014; last year’s profits are little more than half its 2014 levels. The report admits one of the main contributors to a consolidated net income increase over the previous year was “an increase in gift card breakage revenue”. In short, a big chunk of its profit was down to gift cards that had been sold not being redeemed.

The pay-your-age promotion was meant to be the start of a new thrust. By making it open only to members of the Build-A-Bear Bonus Club, it hoped to entice scores of new customers to register. Doubtless they succeeded. Unfortunately, the offer they made was just too good. In the wake of the fiasco, a YouGov poll found that while awareness of the brand had rocketed, that awareness was almost entirely negative.

And, as Birchall observes, the episode was entirely avoidable. First, he says, it is “quite alarming” how badly Build-A-Bear underestimated the level of demand. What’s more, the fact that the whole appeal of the shop is based on a time-consuming experience means it does not lend itself to events with acute peaks of traffic, rather than steady flows. “I can’t fathom how they could be that far out.”

Romeo Erickson, seven, of Aurora, Colorado, hugs his My Little Pony tight after it was built. Photograph: Joe Amon/Denver Post via Getty Images

At this point, it would be apt to give the last word to Build-A-Bear. I sent them 15 questions, most of which were purely factual, and some specifically about the pay-your-age promotion. After due consideration, the company’s PR people sent back their response. “We greatly appreciate your interest in this story. We are still reviewing and analysing, so we’re not able to answer most of your questions at this time. That said, we did want to share the press release regarding the Build-A-Bear Count Your Candles program to ensure you had the full details on this program that launched last week.”

So I go to Brent Cross shopping centre in north London, to the branch hidden away inside the Fenwick department store. There were no customers there on a warm Wednesday morning during term time. Can I speak to the manager, please? Yes, that’s me. Would you be willing to tell me what it was like to be in charge on the Thursday of pay-your-age? She looks panicked and says she has to call her boss. A couple of minutes later, she returns. “We’re not allowed to talk to anyone. No interviews.”

At Build-A-Bear, the PR shutters are down. But the bears still sit there in their rows, waiting to be stuffed, fluffed, named and taken home.

• This article was amended on 25 July 2018. Gift card breakage revenue refers to unredeemed gift cards, not those that are physically broken in half as an earlier version said.

Hundreds, if not thousands, if kids across the UK and US felt the pain of what happens when people don’t think about supply and demand firsthand yesterday at Build-A-Bear.

What it means: It all started with such good intentions (or at least what they thought was a savvy marketing plan). Build-A-Bear, a toy shop which lets you design, stuff, and dress your own teddy, said that for one day only, you could pay your age for a bear: £3 for a 3 year old, £10 for a 10 year old, and so on. Seeing as the bears are usually between £12 and £27, or even up to £50 for a limited edition, it seemed like a pretty good deal.

Until. Turns out the trade-off for a discount bear was a lot more than people had bargained for. Mile-long queues emerged in front of stores, with people standing in line for over nine hours (probably ratcheting up the parking bill beyond the saved money on the price of the bear itself). One shop told people to stop joining the queue because they didn’t have enough bears to sell to them all.

Needless to say, it was chaos. Lesson learned? People love bears, and people love a bargain. They really should have known.

Read the full story: Sky News

Build-A-Bear Workshop is a childhood staple, but according to some angry parents, it’s just going to remind their children of a horrible day at the mall.

The toyshop ran a one-day promotion on Thursday, promising customers that they could pay their age for any stuffed animal. (Bears typically cost anywhere from $14 to upwards of $60.)

Except, the fun summer activity did not go as planned.

— Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear) July 9, 2018

People responded enthusiastically for the promotion, lining up in front of stores for hours before they even opened.

Build-A-Bear in the Feyatte Mall has lines stretching around the mall for their “pay your age day” offer. @heraldleader

— Silas Walker (@sigh_las) July 12, 2018

“We feel it is important to share that, based on the information available to us before the day began,” Build-A-Bear later said in a press release. “We could not have predicted this reaction to our Pay Your Age Day event.”

“Reaction” is a bit of an understatement. Just look at these crowds of unruly children:

Build-a-Bear in Valley View Mall saw huge success with today’s Pay Your Age Day event!

— WKBT News 8 (@news8news) July 12, 2018

5 hour queue for @buildabear in @mallcribbs. I’d rather pay full price!!

— Kathryn (@tweetkattweet) July 12, 2018

— WCCO – CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) July 12, 2018

Some compared the chaos and crowds to apocalyptic survival situations.

It’s Pay Your Age day at Build A Bear.
Queues are reportedly seven hours long.
Bet it’s like the Hunger Games… but fluffier.

— Mama, Eden and Me (@MamaEdenandMe) July 12, 2018

Mobbed with customers and overwhelmed with security issues, Build-A-Bear shut down the event halfway through the day.

“The response to our Pay Your Age Day event has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history,” Build-A-Bear said in a statement. “The safety of our Guests and associates is our top priority.”

Some local authorities told Build-A-Bear that its stores couldn’t accept more customers, and said “extreme crowds” made it unsafe for the event to continue.

“We understand our affected Guests may be disappointed, and we are working to address the situation,” Build-A-Bear said.

**Urgent Alert:
Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our locations due to crowd safety concerns. We have closed lines in our stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible.

— Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear) July 12, 2018

To appease those who waited in the excessive lines, the toy company handed out vouchers that could be redeemed until the end of August.

But that wasn’t enough for angry parents — and adult plushie enthusiasts, apparently — who were infuriated by the fact that they couldn’t get their hands on a cheap stuffed bear.

Terrible on your part @buildabear you should have been more prepared for this and instead of giving a $15 voucher you should have given a voucher to pay your age. Bad for business on your part

— Streamer Club John (@streamclubjohn) July 12, 2018

Thanks @buildabear for ruining my 8 and 2 year olds’ day by closing your pay your age event before our mall even opens! #howdoifixmykidsbrokenhearts #buildabear #whypromoteitifyoucantkeepupwithdemand #sadday #thanks

— Jasmin Butler (@sassymomHQ) July 12, 2018

@buildabear @emma1885 angry and fuming, we are working parents, my wife is having to drive 100 miles after work to get to a store to take up the offer, and now we have a 2 year old in meltdown she’s not getting a bear, perhaps your MD wants to consul her @BBCWatchdog #buildabear

— Dave A (@geekonaleashuk) July 12, 2018

Let me help you fix this MASSIVE failure! You guys stressed out a lot of already stressed out moms and made a lot of kids cry. DM me!

— Coupon Pro (@CouponProBlog) July 12, 2018

But some Twitter users were skeptical about the impassioned responses Build-A-Bear fans claimed to have.

Moms were really crying?

— Ms. Unique🐝 (@uniquethatsme13) July 12, 2018

Others joked about the promotion’s planning oversights.


— ShinyGirafarig (@ShinyGirafarig) July 12, 2018

IHOP: We have developed the most disastrous, yet successful marketing campaign of 2018!
Build A Bear: Hold my bear…#Ihop #Ihob #BuildABear #PayYourAgeDay

— kerry b (@gwynzach) July 12, 2018

today is pay your age day at build a bear. the stores haven’t even been open for two hours and already they’re closing the lines because the cops told them the crowds are too big. catch grown ass adults starting riots in ur local mall over some stuffed animals.

— αllιѕσи 🐝 (@machinebyexo) July 12, 2018

(grabbing microphone without permission at a city council meeting) ONLY THE LORD CAN TRULY BUILD A BEAR

— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) July 12, 2018

The disaster of an promotion also drew comparisons to other massive events that fell apart, like Fyre Festival, the music festival scam that left rich people stranded in the Bahamas, and Tanacon, a YouTuber’s attempt and an anti-VidCon that was shut down by police for overcrowding.

build-a-bear is looking like tanacon

— Cheska (@chesssskaaa) July 12, 2018

“It was so successful, it failed.”
Who said it: Fyre Fest or Build-A-Bear??

— Sallee Ann (@salleeannruibal) July 12, 2018


— Karla Balcazar (@KarlaBalcazar15) July 12, 2018

“Build-A-Bear Workshop takes seriously the privilege of providing our valued Guests with an opportunity to make a furry friend,” the company concluded in their statement. There was no mention of running another pay your age day promotion in the future, which for the sake of mall cops worldwide, is probably for the best.

The customizable stuffed animals usually retail for $25 or more, but during the promotion anyone who brought a child would only have to pay as much as the child\u0027s age. So a parent with a 2-year-old could get a coveted bear for just $2.

To take part, however, parents or guardians had to enroll in a no-cost Build-A-Bear Bonus Club rewards program by giving the retailer a valid email address and name. The company previously said stores will let customers buy a stuffed animal and come back another time to \”build\” it when the workshop is less hectic.

Many people were disappointed and blamed the company for poor planning on its Facebook page.

\”Build-a-bear Workshop. This was an incentive for those who are bonus club members. You should have never advertised it to the general public and only emailed invites out to bonus club members,\” one commenter wrote.

\”This clearly was NOT thought out,\” said another. \”You would have been far better off sending out a coupon to all BAB members for a one time pay your age bear per family member to be used in the month of July. I guarantee you would have had so many less problems.\”


Watch CBSN Live

Build-A-Bear cancels popular “Pay Your Age” sale

Despite crowds of children barely able to contain their excitement, Build-A-Bear Workshop halted its first-ever “Pay Your Age” sale on Thursday after chaos and long lines took over stores throughout the U.S. The discount let patrons purchase a furry friend according to how old the child is. Build-A-Bear dubbed it as its “biggest-in-store deal ever.”

The company’s website says it couldn’t allow additional people at its Build-A-Bear Workshop locations due to “crowd and safety concerns.”

“We have closed lines in our U.S. stores. We understand some of our Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible,” the update said.

People crowd into the Build-A-Bear Workshop store at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Illinois, for the “Pay Your Age” promotion, July 12, 2018. CBS News

At the University Park Mall in Indiana, CBS affiliate WSBT described the line for the Build-A-Bear Workshop store there as “insane.” An accompanying video showed parents and children in a line that appeared to wrap around the inside of the mall.


UPDATE: Build-A-Bear’s Facebook page posted a message saying they have closed lines in their U.S. and Canada stores for the Pay Your Age Day Event. — VIDEO: Build-A-Bear is celebrating Pay Your Age Day today! One of WSBT 22’s producers told us the line is “insane” at the University Park Mall, stretching from one end of the mall to the other. —

Posted by WSBT-TV on Thursday, July 12, 2018

The customizable stuffed animals usually retail for $25 or more, but during the promotion anyone who brought a child would only have to pay as much as the child’s age. So a parent with a 2-year-old could get a coveted bear for just $2.

To take part, however, parents or guardians had to enroll in a no-cost Build-A-Bear Bonus Club rewards program by giving the retailer a valid email address and name. The company previously said stores will let customers buy a stuffed animal and come back another time to “build” it when the workshop is less hectic.

Many people were disappointed and blamed the company for poor planning on its Facebook page.

“Build-a-bear Workshop. This was an incentive for those who are bonus club members. You should have never advertised it to the general public and only emailed invites out to bonus club members,” one commenter wrote.

“This clearly was NOT thought out,” said another. “You would have been far better off sending out a coupon to all BAB members for a one time pay your age bear per family member to be used in the month of July. I guarantee you would have had so many less problems.”

Build-A-Bear Workshop has more than 400 stores worldwide.

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Police called as Build-A-Bear sale offers £50 toys for a few pounds

Police have been called after scenes of chaos erupted around the country amid fears of ‘riots’ as thousands of families queue for Build-A-Bear stores’ ‘Pay Your Age Day’ promotion.

Parents are reporting queues of up to nine hours as stocks run out because of an ‘unprecedented demand’ for the teddy bears, which can sell for up to £50 – but are on offer today for as little as £1.

Stores in Telford, Shropshire, Basingstoke, Hampshire and Sheffield, were forced to close early and refused people entry amid ‘extreme crowds and safety concerns’.

Anthony, one father who was among around 2,000 other people waiting with their children – some of whom had been taken out of school – said: ‘I don’t know what’s worse, England losing or queuing for a bear.’

Hundreds of people were pictured gathering outside one of the popular stores in The Rock, Bury

One mother filmed ‘utterly insane’ queues as hundreds of eager parents waited in line for the bears – and said she even feared there could be riots

Delighted youngsters pictured with their discount bears at the St Davids shopping centre in Cardiff

Francesca Munro sent this picture of hundreds of people waiting at Braehead shopping centre in Scotland this morning

Children can walk away with a new stuffed toy simply by paying their current age in pounds – instead of the normal retail price, which starts at around £15. All bears are included in the deal which led to a huge surge in demand.

One mother filmed ‘utterly insane’ queues as hundreds of eager parents waited in line for the bears – and said she even feared there could be riots.

Fiona O’Reilly, 31, from Gateshead, arrived at Newcastle’s Metro Centre at at 8.15am this morning to purchase bears for each of her four children.


On 12 July, customers are invited to ‘pay your age for any bear in the workshop’.

It is the store’s biggest in-store deal ever.

The offer is only available to Bonus Club members – which is free to join.

Bears are limited one per guest (or child), who must be present.

Outfits and accessories for the toys are sold separately.

The minimum price is £1.

Customers do not need to present formal identification or proof of age to participate in the offer but are simply told to a store associate how their child is.

She was shocked by the hundreds already queuing before the shop opened at 10am and feared there could be fights as parents argued in the queues.

She said: ‘It was complete madness. The queues are starting to get so long, and the store only has four staff making the bears, so I reckon people will be waiting all day. There’s already people fighting in the queues!’

Fiona paid just over £24 for four bears which could have cost more than £200 on a normal day. The video she shared to social media racked up 22,000 views in an hour.

Krystyna Anderson spent nearly five hours queueing outside the store in Exeter after arriving at 8.45am with her son two-year-old son. She told MailOnline people at the back were told their wait would be six hours.

She said: ‘There was no concern for children’s’ safety. It was incredibly poorly organised – some people had four bears and only one child. People started fighting about queue jumping and security got involved. It was the worst event I’ve ever been to in my life.

‘Security refused to put barriers around the store despite it being on a busy bus road – so many kids nearly ran out into the road.

‘People at the front of the store were offered £8 to spend another day if they left and staff told me they were only having ten min breaks and staying open till 8pm.

‘For something that involved children, it was ridiculous – there were so many unhappy, crying children there.

‘I think it was just a way to get rid of unwanted stock. Kids started kicking off and there wasn’t even any water being handed out when people asked for it – and you couldn’t leave your place in the queue.’

One mother, who asked not to be named, told MailOnline she burst into tears as she waited for bears in Bracknell, Berkshire with her 16-month-old and four-year-old.

Build a Bear, St Davids shopping centre, Cardiff, which is offering people to buy bears at the age they are

Huge queues have formed in Cardiff as eager families wait patiently for one of the popular toys

She said: ‘I got there at 8.50am and there was a queue of around 30 people in front of us. They opened all four doors at the same time and we were being crushed. It was awful and I was so upset I burst into tears.

Fiona O’Reilly, 31, filmed hundreds already queuing before the shop opened at Newcastle’s Metro Centre

‘I had to park the pushchair and take my little girl away from it because it was so frightening. I gave up after 40 minutes after being told our wait was at least two hours despite the fact we were nearly at the front.

‘It was so dangerous. My little boy was so scared he just wanted to get out.

‘My friend is at Basingstoke and they said she was five hours away and stopped the queue. The manager told us to pay for our bear and go back another time to get it stuffed.’

Chloe Partridge told MailOnline: ‘I arrived at the build a bear in Leicester after an hour drive with my two children.

‘They were both very excited. We go there at 9.10am and the website stated this store didn’t open until 9.30.

‘As soon as we joined the queue we got turned away by a worker saying the store was now closing and had been open since 8.30am, it just wasn’t advertised. They had been giving out £12 vouchers but ran out when it got near us.

‘There were parents shouting and kids crying – it was absolute madness.’

At one of its biggest stores at the Bullring Centre in Birmingham, the shop announced on Twitter at 10.50am it had sold out of all stock.

One mother was refused entrance when she tried to join the queue at the Build A Bear store in Meadowhall, Sheffield, despite arriving before the shop opened.

She said: ‘We arrived around 9.45am, about 15 minutes before it was due to open. The line was almost full length of one side of the shopping centre.

‘A member of staff told us to go home as we couldn’t join the line and it was up to a nine hour wait for people already waiting. My two year old toddler now can’t get the bear that he was looking forward to.’

The promotional exercise has also seen many families handed £12 vouchers after missing out on getting a cheap bear.

Children can walk away with a new stuffed toy simply by paying their current age in pounds

Martin Knott, who was turned away from the store in Solihull at the Touchwood Centre, tweeted: ‘Hundreds of kids now emotionally distressed after they were told they were getting teddies. Thanks for lying for my daughter! This voucher better hold the same offer!’

Mother Rikki said she was refused entrance to the store in Telford. She tweeted: ‘I have a very disappointed two-year-old as the Telford store has stopped people joining the queue with a worker saying it’s closed for health and safety reasons as queue is too long.’

Mother-of-one one Tilly said she was has been warned of an eight-hour wait at the Build-A-Bear in Warrington, Cheshire.

And Drake Circus Shopping Centre in Plymouth has warned all parents to stay away if they’re not already queueing.

Another mother said: ‘We’re maybe 100 from the front. I’d say roughly 500 are queuing. I can’t see how far back it goes anymore now though as it goes up and down several times and is now bent round the other side of The Rock.’

Queues stretched as far as the eye could see in Cardiff as parents tried to keep their children happy

Dozens of families were pictured waiting outside the store in St Stephen’s Shopping Centre in Hull

The Build a Bear store at St Davids shopping centre in Cardiff, where large queues continue to form outside

Francesa Munro sent MailOnline this picture from Braehead shopping centre in Scotland, which sold out by 10.30 with around 200 people turned away empty handed. She said: ‘Complete and utter disgrace for parents who had to turn round and have to tell children that the two hour wait had been for nothing!’

And a huge queuing is spiralling inside Manchester Arndale, which Rebecca Robinson has joined with her daughter Sophia.

She said: ‘I reckon there’s around 1,000 people at least. I got told at Bristol there’s over 2,000 people waiting. They’ve stopped people queuing for now because there are too many.’

Hundreds of shoppers are queuing outside Build-A-Bear stores at Intu Lakeside in Essex, with some getting there at 8am to make sure they were among the first to get the bargain.

One shopper said: ‘It’s so busy, the whole of the centre is queueing like a snake back and forth, pushchairs and children everywhere. Lakeside staff said the people at the front of the queue have been there since 8am.

‘I’ve been in the queue with my son for an hour and a half and we’re not even halfway there yet.’

The wait paid off for three-year-old Rayna. who waited for her mother Laila Jordan at a store in Uxbridge.

Laila told MailOnline: ‘People at the back of the queue were told the wait was around four hours to get in let alone the time it would have taken to get around the shop, it would have been about 5.5 hours from joining the queue to leaving the store.

‘As you could imagine there were screaming children everywhere, tantrums on the floor and general moaning about being hungry and tired. Some parents completely lost it altogether eventually just leaving the queue with a screaming child.

‘They had a truant officer interviewing parents that had brought older children with them in case they’d been taken out of school to come to build a bear, which I’m sure they did as I saw at least 12 children of primary school age in the queue in full uniform.’

Derranni Joseph sent MailOnline these pictures of the queues outside one of the stores in Cardiff

Krystyna Anderson spent nearly five hours queueing outside the store in Exeter after arriving at 8.45am with her son two-year-old son. She told MailOnline people at the back were told their wait would be six hours

The wait paid off for three-year-old Rayna, who queued with her mother Laila Jordan at the store in Uxbridge

Jenni Bowman told MailOnline staff at Liverpool One gave families free cookies while circus entertainers kept children happy with bubbles and ribbons.

Kelly Budge said queues snaked around the shopping centre in Solihull, Birmingham. She added: ‘The trouble was they were spending too much time stuffing the bears and putting the hearts in. They should have pre-stuffed them all and just let the kids pick what was available.

‘I got my little girl Isabelle, who is due for cochlear implants soon, the Skye paw patrol one to take into surgery for her she was so pleased! So sad about all the other children who may come from a poorer background that missed out.’

Emma Stace, 38, added: ‘My two year old daughter and I went to the Milton Keynes store at 10am this morning to be met with queues that went inside and outside the shopping centre. We met our friends who also have a two year old son. We stayed in the queue for 45 minutes to then be told by staff the wait would be five hours.

‘It specifies in the terms and conditions when you sign up that the child must be present in order for you to purchase a bear. Individuals like ourselves who have the day off work and partners who are at work, cannot keep our little ones occupied for that length of time.

‘Build a Bear should factor waiting time in for small children who can’t possible wait for that length of time. Surely a ticket system purchased online before hand with a time to visit the store would be a more sensible option?’

Scores of families waiting outside the store in St Stephen’s Shopping Centre in Hull, before it had even opened today

Rochelle Gray sent this picture of her granddaughters Lola, six, Dolly, four, Tillie, two, and Tallulah, two, from the Rock at Bury

One delighted youngster who waited patiently this morning proudly holds his discount bear aloft


Maxine Clark, the founder of Build a Bear

Build-A-Bear is a plush toy retailer known for allowing customers to customise their teddy bear through an interactive process.

The company was founded on October 26, 1997 by Maxine Clark in St. Louis, Missouri and is currently headquartered in nearby Overland, Missouri. Ms Clark is a member of the Board of Directors of Footlocker, Inc. and Gymboree.

There are more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide.

Build-A-Bear is noted for charitable efforts, including raising money for the World Wildlife Fund.

The company is also notable for being the only major toy store in the United States to survive the ‘retail apocalypse’ after the closure of all Toys ‘R’ Us stores in June 2018.

At the Eastgate Centre in Essex, the queue has been stopped. A spokesman for the store said: ‘The queue is now being stopped as the team in Build-A-Bear will not get through anymore people.

‘We thank you for your patience with this and would like to remind you of their count the candles promotion that is coming soon.’

Families waiting outside the store in St Stephen’s Shopping Centre in Hull have been queuing for more than four hours and queues snaked from outside the store.

Security staff took control and erected barriers to control the queues before refusing to let anyone else join and gave vouchers out to families to get £12 off their next bought item at the store.

Staff said they thought around 500 people were queuing for the bears.

Hull’s promotional day was so popular that parents have taken kids out of school to queue.

Charlotte Williamson, and her son, Leo Williamson, 10 months, had been in the queue for three hours despite moving just three shops in length.

Ivy, two, had been in the queue for two hours with her mother Amy. Amy said: ‘I was not expecting it to be that long a queue. When we got here we were only a few shops down and it moved very slowly.

‘I thought they would stuff it and go ‘there is your bear’ but they are still doing all the little touches. If they carry on doing that they won’t get through everyone.’

The entire collection of furry friends is up for grabs, including the popular licensed characters such as Star Wars, Pokemon, My Little Pony, Super Mario, Paw Patrol, Marvel, Shopkins, Disney and more.

A spokesman for the Build-A-Bear Workshop said: ‘The response to our Pay Your Age Day event at all of our UK locations has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history, and the safety of our guests and associates is our top priority.

‘The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations and, per local authorities, queues are at capacity and we cannot accept additional guests due to extreme crowds and safety concerns.

‘We understand our guests are disappointed, and we are working to address the situation. We will reach out directly to our valued guests as soon as possible.’

Left, Abi Faroyan and her daughter Lola, three, waited two and a half hours for the Build a Bear offer. Right, Fiona O Reilly’s daughter Charlotte

The entire collection of furry friends is up for grabs, including the popular licensed characters such as Star Wars, Pokemon, My Little Pony, Super Mario, Paw Patrol, Marvel, Shopkins, Disney and more – which led to a huge surge in demand

Build-A-Bear builds a prodco

St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop will launch its own production entity through a number of agreements with other companies, the specialty retailer announced in its financial report. While details are sparse, the end goal is to create Build-A-Bear Entertainment, and it has already entered into an agreement with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions to support the new unit.

The entertainment space is already stuffed full of other toycos, notably LEGO has had success at the box office with The LEGO Movie (earning US$469 million worldwide according to Box Office Mojo) using a combination of its own toy-based IP and other licensed brands. Meanwhile, Mattel launched a theatrical film division last year and said in February that it was in production on 22 animated and live-action TV shows. Hasbro, on the other hand, bought prodco eOne and with it, big kids brands Peppa Pig and PJ Masks.

Much of Build-A-Bear’s business is built on licenses, including its Disney license (pictured), which is going to yield new plush related to Disney’s Frozen II movie release in November. It could track a similar path as LEGO, using its own brand mixed with a series of licenses to build up its productions efforts. The retailer didn’t return a request for additional details on what types of content it will be making.

The chief executive of Build-A-Bear Workshop apologized on Friday, a day after a one-day sales event prompted anger, massive crowds and shortages at stores across the world.

In an interview on NBC’s Today programme, Sharon Price John called the problems caused by the sale “heartbreaking” and said the retailer would extend a sale through the summer.

“I am sorry that we were not able to provide the service that we wanted,” Price John said. “We are doing our very best and we are staying very focused on making sure that we do the best we can to make it right for people.”

Build-A-Bear’s promotion offered customers the chance to buy any bear for the price of their child’s age. The international sales event, which covered the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, caused chaos as customers fought to get their hands on cut-price bears and supplies ran out.

“It was beyond anything we could have ever imagined,” Price John told NBC. “There was really no way for us to have estimated those crowds. We were fully stocked, fully staffed.”

The company will offer US, UK and Canadian customers a $15 voucher through 31 August and will still honor its pay-your-age promotion in stores for children during the child’s birthday month, she said.

Police were called in the UK after stores were closed, unable to keep up with demand and facing angry customers, some of whom had waited up to nine hours.

The Build-a-Bear stores across the US also had to shut up shop early. People started lining up at 6am for the sale at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune. The company tweeted that the promotion was being suspended just hours later because of safety concerns.