How a Build-A-Bear promotion to ‘Pay Your Age’ descended into chaos in the US and UK
It was supposed to be Build-A-Bear’s biggest sale ever.
The global teddy bear retailer told parents to get ready for “fun” ahead of its ‘Pay Your Age’ promotion in the US and UK, where kids were invited to pay only their age for customisable bears that normally cost around $40.
But when hundreds of people with prams and excited children flocked to stores and formed long lines that clogged shopping centre corridors, the day descended into chaos.
This was one queue at a shopping centre in Bristol:
Tweet by Lyndsey: Slightly underestimated the queue for the @buildabear today #payyourage #themallcribbs
And this was another in Blackpool:
Tweet by JRW_Fitness: Had to pop to @HoundshillSC and was baffled by the queues?? Turns out it’s build a bear. I don’t get it.
In the US, parents reported having to wait up to five hours in lines, with some eventually missing out when a number of stores were forced to close.
Tweet by Erin Mulholland: My kids paid their age. I ultimately paid the price — 5 hr wait.
One mother from North Carolina said she waited for two hours, only to be turned away.
Tweet by Amy Erb: @buildabear Epic Fail! #PayYourAgeDay didn’t even get a voucher! One sad little boy!
“Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our US Build-A-Bear Workshop locations due to crowd and safety concerns,” the company said in a statement.
“We understand some of our guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible.”
Later, the retailer said it had offered vouchers to customers who were turned away from stores, and others could claim the discount online.
“We feel it is important to share that, based on the information available to us before the day began, we could not have predicted this reaction to our Pay Your Age Day event,” it said.
Build-A-Bear is headquartered in Missouri and has some 400 stores worldwide.