ST. LOUIS – A company based out of St. Louis, Build-A-Bear, is celebrating its anniversary by releasing a documentary called “Unstuffed,” which debuted this October. The documentary explains the company’s start, its development into a chain store, and the nation’s fascination with creating their own bears.

On that October Sunday in 1997, when Maxine Clark opened the first Build-A-Bear Workshop at the St. Louis Galleria Mall, guests lined up outside the door. Bear by bear, store by store, market by market, and country by country, Build-A-Bear Workshop has expanded to locations worldwide. Their toys made appearances on Oprah, South Park, and were part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, becoming a cherished family tradition.

Originally, the business catered to children, offering them the chance to create their own special teddy bear through a step-by-step process, including the heart ceremony where customers could kiss their bear’s heart and place it inside during the stuffing step.

Today, Build-A-Bear has grown into a multi-generational, global brand with appeal across various ages and cultures. The St. Louis brand has 500 global retail locations and has crafted more than 200 million furry friends around the world.

Some FOX2 viewers shared their experiences with Build-A-Bear:  

Janet L. said, “I still own one of the first original bears.” 

Karen H. said, “I remember being at the store in the Galleria when they first started out, thinking how cool it was. What I remember after that is making a bear at Disneyland and clothing him with a Mickey t-shirt, a Mickey ear hat, and a pair of Mickey gloves. It was so much fun—I’m a super Mickey fan. 

My husband, on the other hand, is a super Dodger fan, so he had to have one with a Dodger shirt when we were there. The other one for me was making a Fredbird at the Cardinal’s stadium shop. Fun times and memories.” 

Carrie P. said that she remembers having my daughters and granddaughter’s birthday parties at Build-A-Bear “I even took my girl scout troop there to make girl scout bears as a reward for selling so many cookies,” she said. “I’m not a fan of the kiosks; I wish the store was back.”