Hey Build-A-Bear, we’ve got your back


If you’ve watched the news or perused the online media in the last 24 hours you’ll see beloved childhood store Build-A-Bear under attack by parents, children and media alike due to the ‘chaos’ that ensued after a promotion-gone-wrong across the UK yesterday.

Overcrowding and 8-hour long queues we’re seen in many shopping centres across the country as the ‘pay your age’ Build-A-Bear Workshop promotion escalated beyond anticipation. Build-A-Bear Workshop was offering UK customers a chance to build a bear, which can cost up to around £50, for the price of their child’s age i.e. 4-year-old = £4 bear. What a bargain, right?

However, when hundreds of patrons were turned away pre-bear-build once resources were exhausted and situations were getting out of hand (in some places police were doing crowd control), angry parents took to social media to express their outrage and disappointment. No doubt this was a sub-standard experience for hundreds of children that left sad and empty handed, however the spotlight now turns to damage control and how Build-A-Bear-Workshop is going to try and keep hundreds of disgruntled customers.

The premise behind the promotion definitely has legs, it’s thoughtful to a point that knows people love a sale, pandering to the bargain-hunter in all of us, where it fails in execution however is its foresight to estimate popularity and attendance. While there is an argument for crowds generating crowds, there’s always that tipping point of when experience turns in to endangerment, hence the scenes we saw yesterday.

What’s Build-A-Bear to do now? They’re currently in the process of issuing those who missed out with £12 vouchers to redeem at a later date; later being the operative word with Build-A-Bear no doubt painfully conscious of repeating the same mistakes with people rushing voucher-in-hand back to stores. But is that enough?

In-store experiences have now matured past a point of your standard engagement and while the day-to-day experience of creating your own toy still holds a lot of value for the long-term direction of the company, the question as to whether £12 off the same experience is enough to turn around the many crying children and angry parents. In our opinion something a little more considered needs to be pulled out of the bag at this point, it’s time to exceed expectation as opposed to just meet it. After all, we all know how hard it is to comfort a crying child.

So B-A-B (can we call you B-A-B?), give us a call! We know your heart was in the right place yesterday and we’ve got your back, let us help you turn this logistical nightmare in to a customer experience dream. We’ve got a coffee here with your name on it (or perhaps something stronger?).