Build-A-Bear reps say they underestimated response to ‘Pay Your Age’ promotion

ST. LOUIS – A national promotion for St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear proved to be so popular that lines were unbearably long, forcing several of its stores to close early on Thursday.

It was all for a special 'Pay Your Age Day' promotion, as eager parents and their children across the country waited for hours to build their own teddy bears for as little as $1.

In a Fox 2/KPLR 11 exclusive, company representatives said they underestimated how popular their promotional launch had become.

“We underestimated the love of teddy bears,” said Beth Kerley, director of communications. “There were a number of reasons why the malls' partners and store teams cut off lines. At certain points in some instances, it was due to crowd size, other times they wanted to make sure the guests who were in store were able to be helped.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Shaw of Lake St. Louis said that despite some of the public negativity surrounding the promotion, she and her 7-year-old grandson had a great experience at the store located inside of the Galleria Mall.

“I’ve done this before with Cabbage Patch and Elmo and I knew what to expect,” Shaw said. “At the Galleria, there were a lot of people, but I think it was nice; there wasn’t any craziness going on.”

Shaw said she felt a bit disappointed at how many families, some of whom she knows personally, were making unpleasant comments not only in person but also on social media.

“There was just too much negativity and people on my Facebook are talking negative and blaming things on Build-A-Bear, that it was just too chaotic. It was a madhouse, but I didn’t see any of that,” she said.

Shaw said that besides her continuous support for the company, she has a message for parents.

“We should just be more positive,” she said, “and set a good example for our kids and grandkids.”

The company offered $15 vouchers to customers in line who didn’t make it inside of a store. The company is also giving vouchers to its Build-A-Bear Bonus Club members in the U.S. and Canada who log into their account by midnight on July 15, 2018. Vouchers related to this event will be honored through August 31, 2018.

To access your online voucher, click here.