Build-A-Bear ‘Pay Your Age’ Event Shut Down Due To Overwhelming Response

In many places 'Pay Your Age' ended before it began.

Adam Bettcher / Getty Images

In many places 'Pay Your Age' ended before it began.

The “Pay Your Age” event at Build-A-Bear Workshop locations in the U.S. and Canada seemed too good to be true, and for many across both countries, that turned out to be true. The event also became so successful it failed in the U.K.

Many fans of Build-A-Bear Workshop got excited when they heard about the stuffed animal company’s “Pay Your Age” event scheduled for today. Unfortunately for most would-be customers, before the day even started, the company had to shut the event down due to the overwhelming response.

Around 11 a.m. EDT Build-A-Bear workshop posted an urgent alert on its Facebook page informing would-be customers at the event that lines at all stores in the U.S. and Canada had been closed due to safety concerns because of the event’s overwhelming response.

The company said in a Facebook post, “**Urgent Alert: Lines Closed for Pay Your Age Day Event. Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our locations due to crowds and safety concerns. We have closed lines in our U.S. and Canada stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible.”

The announcement went out before many locations in the Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones even opened even though lines already started at stores in those regions. News stations across the United States posted pictures of overwhelming lines in mall locations and interviewed angry caregivers and heartbroken children once the news hit.

According to a BBC report, in the U.K., shops in the shopping centers where the mobbed Build-A-Bear locations were located ended up shutting down amidst the chaos, causing lost revenue for those businesses and well.

Customers left standing in line when the doors were shut reported receiving $15 vouchers, which they weren’t thrilled about considering the time they’d spent, the fact that the items they wanted would still cost much more than their child’s age even with $15 off, and the fact that today they’re left with no bear to take home.

The situation looks like a public relations nightmare for the company with so many negative comments on social media from upset parents and caregivers.

On the company’s post, Amanda Shanahan Ha wrote, “Really poor planning. Instead of happy kids getting bears we all have sad kids who ended up disappointed.”

Others accused the company of poor planning while some would-be patrons offered possible solutions in the form of paying your age on your birthday for a year, so each child at least had the opportunity to go in and build a bear at some point. Others suggested offering a pay your own age voucher for everybody for a week or for the rest of the month of July.

An angry customer, Juaninha Andrews, said, “Bad management. That’s awful. If you can’t sustain your promises, shouldn’t even consider doing a promotion like that.”

For now, the company hasn’t announced how it plans to make customers happy after the debacle. Considering bear prices in stores range from about $15 to $35 depending on what’s available, it’s easy to see why people with children in the single digits felt excited to get such a special bear at those low prices.