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(Photo: Build-A-Bear Workshop)

Build-A-Bear Shuts Down 'Pay Your Age' Promotion Due To Overwhelming Response

July 12, 2018 - 3:32 pm
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TROY (WWJ) - "Chaos" was reported across the U.S. as one-day-only promotion at Build-A-Bear Workshops was so successful it had to be shut down.

The popular toy retailer announced that on "Pay Your Age Day" -- Thursday, July 12 --  customers could come in, pick out a stuffed animal, and pay only the cost of their age. For example, a parent of a 4-year-old child would only pay $4 for a bear.

While it sounds like a heck of a deal, lines were so long that many customers were turned away.

At 11:30 a.m.. Build-A-Bear issued a statement saying that, due to "unprecedented response" -- with significantly longer than expected lines and larger crowds than expected -- law enforcement was limiting the size of lines, and customers were asked to be patient. 

A little bit later, an updated statement said that, per local authorities, all lines at all U.S. Build-A-Bear Workshop locations would be closed due to "crowd and safety concerns."

"We understand some of our Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible," the company added. 

Many using the hashtag #PayYourAgeDay, customers took to social media by the hundreds to post photos, and to complain. 

One dad said it was "bonkers" at his local mall, and he'd told his son they'd come back soon and pay full price. A mom tweeted that Build-A-Bear had clearly not properly prepared for the sale, her child was heartbroken, and customers were owed an apology. 

In the U.K. where the deal also drew massive crowds, one shopper called it "a disaster." 

Other people made jokes, poking fun at the situation.

There are three Build-A-Bear Workshops in metro Detroit: at the Somerset Collection in Troy, Great Lakes Crossing outlets in Auburn Hills, and Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi.

"Boy, when this story opened the lines were long," reported WWJ's Sandra McNeill, from Somerset. "Sources here tell me there were as many as 4,000 people in line. In fact, they were lined up the entire width of this mall. So from the store near Nordstrom, all the way to Macy's and then back around."

Shopper Erica McJenit waited in line about five hours and got about $30 off a bear. But when the line was cut off, she said, other customers began to be turned away.

"People were pretty angry because they weren't putting up any notices that they had cut off at the mall," she said. "So people were still coming up here and then getting told that they couldn't go in because they were cut off, and then all they were giving was $15 off."

While the lines are closed, the promotion was still running for those already in line at Somerest, Thursday afternoon.

After waiting for more than four hours with his mom, aunt and siblings, 4-year-old Cooper remained upbeat, telling McNeill: "I'm getting a bear!"

What kind of bear? "A dragon."

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