Build-A-Bear ends its Pay Your Age Day promotion early

Faced with overwhelming demand, Build-A-Bear stores at malls in metro Denver, Loveland and across the country shut down a promotion where plush bears could be purchased at a price matching a customer’s age.

If the customer is 5 years old, that’s a great deal. And people around the world flocked to the stores to take advantage.

“Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our U.S. Build-A-Bear Workshop locations due to crowd and safety concerns,” the St. Louis retailer said on its Facebook page.

An overwhelming response that started in England was repeated across the U.S. and Canada as stores opened. Parents and children turned out by the thousands to get a discount on a bear, overwhelming store staff and forcing safety officials to step in.

One line in London stretched a mile long and parents at some stores waited more than eight hours. Denver 7 News counted about 1,600 people queued up at the Park Meadows mall and customers were out the door at the Promenade Shops at Centerra in Loveland.

“Local authorities are requiring us to limit the crowds and lines due to safety concerns. We understand this is disappointing. We are working to address the situation. And we will be reaching out to our valued guests soon,” a recorded message at the Flat Irons Build-A-Bear store in Broomfield stated.

Build-A-Bear had no choice to shut down the promotion, but that the move will damage its brand, said retail analyst Neil Saunders at GlobalData Retail.

“A lot of parents are now upset that they cannot fulfill promises to their children, and many who made special trips to malls are frustrated that their efforts have come to nothing,” he said in a statement.

The retailer will likely have to offer discounts and other deals to its unhappy customers to avoid losing them for good.

If there is a silver lining, it is that Build-A-Bear, which some analysts view as a tired retail concept, remains “relevant and popular.” But the company may need to offer discounts and other deals to win back alienated customers.

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