Build-a-Bear 'pay your age' deal shut down after lines get out of control
Meredith MacLeod, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, July 12, 2018 2:37PM EDT
Kids and their parents lining up for a special promotion at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. were turned away Thursday after authorities determined the size of the crowds had become dangerous at some locations.
A pay-your-age promotion was so popular that it was closed down just hours after it began in Canada. The company issued an “urgent alert” around 11 am E.T.
“Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our locations due to crowds and safety concerns. We have closed lines in our U.S. and Canada stores. We understand some guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible.”
The BBC reported that families in the U.K. queued up for more than eight hours and that some stores had lines more than a kilometre long that required help from police. Some U.K. media reported that violence had broken out.
For one day only, Build-a-Bear, based just outside St. Louis, Mo., offered any “furry friend” for the price equal to the age of the child. Even adults could take part, paying no more than $29.
Not surprisingly, people took to social media to vent their anger when the deal was nixed, calling the event a “madhouse” and complaining of being offered only vouchers for discounts, not the pay-your-age promotion.
One Twitter user posted a photo Thursday that showed a long lineup outside an Oshawa, Ont., Build-a-Bear location.
“WHOEVER thought this was going to go well??” Ronnie Whitcomb tweeted.
Harmonie Perry posted to Facebook: “I got there a hour before they opened waited in the line for 2 hours then this sign was put up literally right in front of me, we weren’t that far back in the line to begin with,” she wrote, referring to a sign that said the line was closed due to capacity.
“I think we should have gotten a voucher for the same price we would have paid that day. They were not prepared at all.”
Nicole Davis of Kansas wrote: “It was completely ridiculous. We were even there way before it opened and the line was wrapped completely around the whole inside of the mall. This was probably one of the worse promotions ever. They should have known it was gonna be crazy. I’m sooo disappointed.”
Others defended the company:
“ We went and took our 3 year old. We didn’t get a bear, and that’s okay. My 3 year old was fine and knows that he doesn’t always get what he wants. Maybe it’s time that some adults learn this lesson too!! We are grateful to Build-a-Bear for the opportunity... they don’t have to offer these promotions!!” posted Lauren Ross Mitchell .
“Thank you BAB for the amazing promo and the very kind and useful updates on the crowd situation. Neither of which did you have to offer,” said Micki Lindquist. “Everyone complaining: the world does not revolve around you and your situation. Does anyone complain on Black Friday when they run out and don't offer rainchecks, etc? Do they blame marketing for poor planning? No. It is a toy sale not a hospital turning away sick patients. Not life critical. Learn to handle disappointment. And, no, we did not get a bear either.”
Some turned to humour:
“ How dare you Build-A-Bear?!? I drove 56 hours, took 17 days off work, my child has whooping cough, and now no $8 bear? The stress of this incident has given me night terrors and restless leg syndrome! I demand a public apology and hefty monetary compensation!” wrote Cam Ann-Marie.
The company promoted it as “our biggest in-store deal EVER” and says it has sold more than 160 million stuffed animals in its history. It reported total revenue of $364.2 million in fiscal 2016.
so me and Lola waited to build her first buddy from 8:30am and finally left the store at 10:30am, but she's super happy and I'm super achey! a huge thanks to all the lovely people working at #BuildABear in the @intuVictoriaCen! you made the experience worth the wait pic.twitter.com/5XoODhBtcl— natalie jessica (@grrrlgerm) July 12, 2018
So many people blaming #BuildaBear for their kids supposedly being heartbroken that they're not getting the bear they wanted ... Maybe don't promise them it until you've actually got it maybe buy it full price online if it was that important #PayYourAgeDay— ℕ (@Natalilllllllly) July 12, 2018
Also, @buildabear I think "disappointed" is an understatement for a 1.5 and 3yo who DON'T UNDERSTAND why the waited for so long for nothing. Now I'm going to have to console two kids who DIDNT get the @buildabear that was so exciting and important to them— Jazz V. (@jazzy_v6) July 12, 2018