Build-A-Bear CEO apologises for manic crowds amid controversial promotion


The chief executive of Build-A-Bear Workshop has apologised for a one-day sales event that sparked anger, massive crowds and safety concerns at stores across the world.

Speaking to the NBC Today show in the US, Sharon Price John said the problems caused by the Pay Your Age promotional event was “heartbreaking” and that the retailer would extend a sale through the summer.

“I am sorry that we were not able to provide the service that we wanted,” Price John told the programme.

“We are doing our very best and we are staying very focused on making sure that we do the best we can to make it right for people.”

The Pay Your Age promotion allowed customers pay the age of the child they are accompanying for one of a range of stuffed toys.

This was a significant discount considering Build-A-Bear’s toys normally cost around £20.

Stores across the UK saw high demand with long queues forming outside shops in Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool.

Meanwhile in Belfast, police were called to the site and staff were forced to close the store in the city’s Victoria Square complex due to “safety concerns” as customers turned up en masse.

Customers around the country also took to social media to complain about how they had been advised that they could have to queue for hours.

Price John told NBC that the event “was beyond anything we could have ever imagined”.

“There was really no way for us to have estimated those crowds,” she said.

“We were fully stocked, fully staffed.”

The toy retailer is now offering US, UK and Canadian customers a $15 voucher until August 31.

Build-A-Bear is also shifting away from the Pay Your Age deal on a single day by instead offering the deal during a child’s birth month.

On the retailer’s website, it announced a “count your candles” approach to the promotion that involves the child’s actual birthday.

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