Build-A-Bear Workshop was forced to close some of its stores or cut off customer lines Thursday after a special promotion to pay as little as $1 for a usually pricey stuffed animal was more popular than the retailer anticipated.
Parents and children flocked to stores across the country in an "unprecedented response," to participate in the bargain, the company said in a statement on Facebook announcing it had to cut the lines short in stores. The retailer has several stores in the Philadelphia region, including at malls such as King of Prussia, Willow Grove, and Cherry Hill, according to its website.
"Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our locations due to crowds and safety concerns," the company wrote. "We understand some guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible."
The customizable stuffed animals range in price from less than $20 for a mini stuffed pet to a $32 Disney Mickey Mouse to $75 for an extra large rainbow bear. But on Thursday, those who signed up for the company's free-to-join "Bonus Club" program could pay the age of any child with them for a bear, or other stuffed animal. In the eyes of the retailer, no customer would be considered more than 29 years old, meaning that all stuffed animals on the shelf would be at least less than $30.
The discount was only available in stores, so customers showed up in person and by 7:39 a.m., the retailer posted on Facebook that it had a problem.
"Please be aware," the post began. "We are experiencing significantly longer than expected lines and large crowds. Local authorities are requiring us to limit the lines and crowds due to safety concerns. We understand this is disappointing."
This was the first time the retailer offered a "Pay Your Age Day," so to please disgruntled customers, Build-A-Bear announced later that it would distribute vouchers to those who waited in line, only to be turned away before they could purchase a stuffed animal. Customers can log into their "Build-A-Bear Bonus Club" account by midnight July 15 to redeem the voucher and can use it through August 31, the company said in a statement.
Customers complained on social media about not being able to buy a bear for their children and the long wait time.
Now the retailer is dissuading customers from rushing to a store as soon as they obtain a voucher to avoid long lines and another hectic scene.