How Build-A-Bear is trying to make it up to customers after promotion flopped

 
 
Updated 7/13/2018 1:58 PM
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  • People stood in a line which stretches out the mall entrance as they waited for the opportunity to pay their child's age at Build-a-Bear at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg Thursday.

      People stood in a line which stretches out the mall entrance as they waited for the opportunity to pay their child's age at Build-a-Bear at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg Thursday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Build-A-Bear Workshop is apologizing and offering $15 vouchers following a marketing disaster seen at malls across the country Thursday.

    Build-A-Bear Workshop is apologizing and offering $15 vouchers following a marketing disaster seen at malls across the country Thursday. Courtesy of Build-A-Bear

Build-A-Bear Workshop is apologizing and offering $15 vouchers following a marketing disaster seen at malls across the country Thursday.

The store implemented a marketing blitz "Pay Your Age" Day that allowed kids to buy and stuff a bear for the amount equal to their age.

However, lines at retail stores across the country grew and were often hours long. A Black Friday-like frenzy was felt at many malls. The stuff-your-own-bear company had to stuff the sale.

Shoppers who were turned away were given a $15 voucher toward the purchase of a bear. Now, customers who avoided the line or otherwise missed the sale still can get a $15 voucher in the U.S. and Canada. Here's what to do:

• Log onto your Build-a-Bear Bonus Club account by midnight July 15.

• Print or screenshot the voucher.

• Limit one coupon per Bonus Club account.

• Valid for in-story purchases only.

• The voucher is good through Aug. 31.

Build-a-Bear officials are urging customers not to rush to use the vouchers in order to "enable us to better flow traffic to the stores over the next several weeks to avoid long lines and wait times as much as possible."

While kids were in tears when they were turned away from stores due to safety concerns, investors are pretty happy.

The global retailer's stock rallied as much as 11 percent Friday, the most since Feb. 20.

While the retailer drew criticism for upsetting parents and children who left bear-less, Jefferies analyst Stephanie Wissink says the event was "likely worth it" -- even if the day results in a slight loss or break-even -- because of the overall boost to awareness and tail traffic from vouchers, according to Bloomberg.

Maxine Clark, the founder of the "Build-A-Bear" experience, was once asked the secret of the company's success. "We don't sell products," she responded. "We sell smiles," according to The Washington Post.

But by midday Thursday the smiles faded resulting in headlines were not great for marketing. "'Build-a-Bear carnage' shuts down stores, leaving mobs of kids (and moms) in tears," the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

There are several Build-A-Bear locations in the area including Woodfield Mall, Northbrook Court, Gurnee Mills, Oakbrook Center, Fox Valley Mall and Fashion Outlets in Rosemont.

The price of the bears can range from $10 to $50 and beyond, plus add-ons. For example, you can choose a $15 pink striped stroller for your bear, a pair of lime-green sunglasses for $4.50, an $18 Disney dress and $6 heart to be stuffed in the bear.

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