‘Horrendous’ queues at Build-A-Bear as ‘pay your age’ promotion abandoned

The queues for Build A Bear at Chutchill Square (Photograph: Helen Williams)
The queues for Build A Bear at Chutchill Square (Photograph: Helen Williams)

Parents in Brighton were left disappointed after a ‘pay your age’ promotion at the Build-A-Bear workshop was stopped amid huge queues.

The idea behind the promotion was youngsters could make their own bear for the same price as their age, so a five-year-old would get a bear for £5.

The bespoke bears can cost up to £50.

But like many Build-A-Bear workshops across the country the crowds turned out at Churchill Square Shopping Centre, and the promotion was halted across all stores.

Helen Williams from Bexhill arrived in Brighton at 10am with her friend to buy a bear for her daughter.
“My daughter was at school, but had given me her birthday money and had asked me to get her a full price teddy,” Helen said.

“We were greeted with an extremely long queue, but were ushered into another queue which was to collect a time slot for us to join the queue at.

The queus at Churchill Sqaure for Build a Bear (Photograph: Laura Fleming)

The queus at Churchill Sqaure for Build a Bear (Photograph: Laura Fleming)

“The earliest they could do was 1.30pm so off we went, wandering round Brighton to kill some time. We went back about 11.30am to check the queue, just incase it had gone down, or that we could join it early. We were turned away and told not to come back until our given time. So more killing time...

“We headed back just before 1pm again to check in and hopefully try and join the massive queue. I saw how crazy, long the queue was, so went and spoke to one of the members of staff on the shop door. She was lovely and told me that they were closing the queue at 1pm due to low stock and that I should get down to the end of the queue to join.

“We rushed down there only to be turned away by security. I went back to the front of the store and was told sorry and handed a gift voucher to be redeemed within the next two weeks.

“It seems that the stores were clearly unprepared for such a huge turnout.

“But when you’re advertising such a crazy promotion, I’ve no idea how they wouldn’t have anticipated it!

“I picked my daughter up from school who was filled with such excitement and anticipation and then had to console her and wipe her tears away.”

Laura Fleming, a mum-of-three from Littlehampton said she didn’t receive an apology after waiting around for hours for her 2.30pm time slot, only to be turned away.

She said: “The queues where horrendous, down the aisle, round past the central lift and back up as far as Costa. At which point they closed the queue.

“We arrived just after 9.15am and the queue had closed. We got told that we could have a 2.30pm time slot, to come back for it. We begrudgingly agreed since it meant leaving our lift and getting the train back to Littlehampton.

“We wasted time wandering the shops and came back to see off our lift, asked once more how long it’s likely to be, only to be told we wouldn’t get in. Nobody after the 1.30pm slot would get in and even the 1.30 time slot was questionable.

“We didn’t even get an apology, merely told it wasn’t their fault or problem and to take it up with the store/company. We had to take a very upset toddler home as a result. Thankfully my six-month-old has no idea that she missed anything.

“Time slots had been given to people for as late as 5pm+ so there will be parents and children turning up all evening being turned away.”

At 10.24am this morning, Build-a-Bear UK put out a statement on its Facebook page and said: “Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our UK Build-A-Bear Workshop locations due to crowds and safety concerns. We have closed queues in our UK stores. We understand some of our guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible.”

Churchill Square Shopping Centre also put out a statement, which said: “Churchill Square would like to notify customers that due to the popularity of the Build-A-Bear Workshop event and campaign, the queue is now CLOSED. We apologise for the disappointment, please contact Build-A-Bear Workshop directly for any inconvenience caused.”