Valley News -

By Kim Harris
Managing Editor 

Build-A-Bear Workshop special ends with smiles for some, disappointment for others

Company vows to make things 'right'


Last updated 7/12/2018 at 4:56pm

Lara Hansen photo

Merritt Mendelson, 1, of Murrieta cuddles with his new bear from the Build-A-Bear Workshop at the Temecula Promenade Thursday, July 12.

A Build-A-Bear Workshop special "Pay Your Age Sale" Thursday, July 11, ended with smiling faces for some, but disappointment for others.

Lines at Temecula Promenade wrapped around the entire second floor of the mall as eager bear builders patiently waited their turn to create their own special friend. But the company halted the promotion earlier this afternoon citing "safety concerns" leaving many parents to explain to their children why they wouldn't be getting their own bear that day.

"There were some moms who were really upset," said Lara Hansen, one of the lucky ones who was actually able to get a bear for her 1-year-old son.

Hansen, a Murrieta resident, said that when she arrived at Promenade Temecula this morning at about 8 a.m. there was already about a hundred people in line, but that line had grown exponentially by the time her five-hour wait was over and she had a bear in hand.

"It was crazy," she said. "It went around the rest of the loop and down the long corridor of the mall."

Hansen said she didn't expect what she saw when it came to the massive crowd, but that everyone was polite and there were no problems with those who were waiting.

Hansen took her son Merritt's bear home unstuffed to avoid any more waiting in line.

Pamela Molina was one of the unlucky ones, left to explain to her disappointed daughters, ages 4 and 5, why they wouldn't be taking home new special friends of their own.

"I got there at 9:15, only waited like 30 minutes and we got turned away, just in line for a coupon," she said. "My little one was crying because she didn't understand why we got turned away."

Instead of building a bear, Molina made a girls' day out of it for her daughters, taking them school clothes shopping and to Starbucks, followed by lunch at In-n-Out.

"They still want the pony, but they had fun with me," Molina said. "We made a day out of it. I just wish Build-A-Bear were better prepared. I didn't think that at 9 in the morning I would have gotten turned away."

Jamie Thien was able to score three bears, one for each of her children ages 10, 2 and 1.

"We actually had a nice experience," said Thein. "We arrived around 7:30, after a nice breakfast. We were about 20th in line."

Thein said that the employees at Build-A-Bear began letting people in the store at about 8:45 a.m.

"We got to the front by 9:15, and I was somewhat regretting my decision," Thein said. "However, only a few kids were being helped at once, which made it a really nice experience."

According to Thein there was plenty of stock on hand for those who choose to take advantage of the sale.

"They were able to do all of the stations without being crowded or rushed," she said. "All three kids were able to choose the bear they wanted, stuffed, brushed, fluffed and dressed their bears, and left with a birth certificate and carrier box. We were all smiles."

Erin Castro stood in line with her 5-year-old triplets (two girls and a boy) and 6-year-old son for about seven hours to get their bears. She said that the store had plenty of inventory available when she finally made it into the store.

"It was just a really long wait," Castro said. "If they would have had more stuffing machines, it wouldn't have been so bad, but overall, I can't complain."

The trip was a surprise for her children, who Castro said all told her it was worth the wait.

"It saved us a ton of money otherwise I probably wouldn't be able to get them all one at the same time," Castro said. "It was worth it. They were thrilled since they have never done one before."

The promotion was intended to introduce the company's new "yearlong "Count Your Candles" birthday program which allows children to get a bear during their birthday month and only pay their age. The store allows children to pick everything from their bear to the clothing it wears, but the event generated such an "overwhelming response" that the company was forced to close down lines, according to a press release on the Build-A-Bear Workshop's webpage,

"Build-A-Bear Workshop's Pay Your Age Day event generated an overwhelming response, resulting in long lines, extensive waits and disappointed Guests. 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," the press release reported.

Jamie Thein photo

Paisley Grace Thein, 2, watches as her new friend is "brought to life" at the Build-A-Bear Workshop at the Temecula Promenade Thursday, July 12.

The company said it understood that many guests were turned away "due to safety concerns created by the crowds... Unfortunately, given these circumstances, we were unable to serve all of our Guests for the Pay Your Age Day event," the release said.

Many local parents took to social media to post photos and videos of the long lines at the Promenade, along with complaints of being shut out of the promotion, something representatives at Build-A-Bear don't take lightly.

"In response, we distributed vouchers to Guests, who were present in lines, to be redeemed for a future purchase. We are now making vouchers available to our Build-A-Bear Bonus Club members in the U.S. and Canada who log in to their account by midnight on July 15, 2018."

Vouchers related to the event will be honored through Aug. 31, 2018, the company said.


Reader Comments


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019