After Build-a-Bear Workshop offered customers the chance to pay their age for any stuffable animal, the company was forced to close its lines at all U.S. and Canadian workshops as “extreme crowds” filled shopping centers and lines wrapped around stores and buildings.
The company said in a statement on its website that the response to the company’s first-of-its-kind sale “has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history.” It added that at the request of local authorities, new customers were not being accepted at stores over safety concerns.
“The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations,” Build-a-Bear said, adding that they are working to address the situation and reach out to affected customers.
With kids and adults hoping to get a customizable animal for cheap, social media posts showed local workshops stuffed with eager customers and throngs of people spilling into the hallways of malls.
The Otay Ranch Town Center in Chula Vista, California, posted Build-a-Bear’s statement to its Facebook page and replied to customers’ comments that all lines were closed “because of extreme length.”
“The store or the mall should give out vouchers for customers to return at a later date to obtain their bear. Seems a bit unfair, and both entities should have prepared for a response like this when offering this type of promotion,” one Facebook user wrote on the post.
It was not immediately clear if Build-a-Bear planned to reopen lines as they lessened or if any future discounts would be offered.
The discount was also being offered at U.K. stores. Police said lines formed at a workshop in England “about a mile long,” the BBC reported. Several stores closed for the rest of the day due to the crowds.
The sale allowed customers to choose any of the “furry friends” available at local workshops and pay their age number for it. The company said no one would pay more than $29 for a bear on the special date — regardless if the purchaser is in their 30’s or older. Build-a-Bear required no identification or proof of age.
The day-long event was set to serve as a kickoff for a larger, year-round celebration of birthdays in which those 14 and under can receive a “Count Their Candles” invite. Kids can pay their age for a special bear during their birthday month.
“We have overwhelming data that indicates Build-A-Bear is synonymous with childhood, and nearly one-third of our sales are associated with birthdays,” said president and chief executive officer of Build-A-Bear-Workshop Sharon Price John.