Build-A-Bear Event Too Popular, Gets Shut Down

Photo courtesy Monika Moellering McCluskey

TOMS RIVER — Build-A-Bear’s “Pay Your Age” event caused hundreds to flock to local stores for a chance to get a discounted bear on July 12.

At the event, the store was discounting a normally $20 or more bear to the age of the child who wanted it. So, for example, a 7-year-old would get a $7 bear.

Local shopping centers like the Ocean County Mall and the Freehold Raceway Mall saw lines out the door of the Build-A-Bear, through the mall’s center and even outside of the building itself.

Despite the popularity of the event nationwide, many people left empty-handed following a shutdown. The company announced at approximately 11 a.m. that it was not allowing any more customers to get in line, stating: “Urgent Alert: Lines Closed for Pay Your Age Day Event” in a social media post.

An earlier post read: “Please be aware: Based on the unprecedented response to our Pay Your Age Day event in our early opening stores, we are experiencing significantly longer than expected lines and large crowds. Local authorities are requiring us to limit the lines and crowds due to safety concerns.”

This was followed by a post announcing the shutdown: “Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our locations due to crowds and safety concerns. We have closed lines in our U.S. and Canada stores. We understand some guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible.”

Prior to the cutoff, hopefuls and their kids flocked to the Ocean County Mall, lining up before the mall even opened at 10 a.m. Passersby posted photos of the crowds lining up in the mall on local Facebook group pages, noting a wait time of numerous hours.

And this wasn’t just happening in Ocean County.

Screenshot courtesy Facebook

Amanda Delinsky was at the Freehold Raceway mall during the event. “Friends who are thinking of tackling the build a bear sale, don’t. We got there a half hour before it opened and the line is literally wrapped around half the mall, twice. The line is closed off to anyone else who wants to get on it and they estimate at least a 3 hour wait,” she stated via social media.

The event was extremely popular nationwide. However, not everyone was so keen to wait in line for their bear.

Melissa Chante Marshall commented on the official company’s shutdown announcement, stating: “I don’t understand people waiting in line for so long for a build a bear to save money. The amount of time standing in line and could’ve been making money to just pay full price for this thing and not have to hassle with people and the line.”

While others agreed, many were upset.

“It was extremely sad to watch all the crying kids turned away! How could you not think it would bring so many people out?” commented Robin Campbell Medina.

While some walked away with a bear, others experienced a grueling wait. The Toms River Office of Emergency Management had a suggestion for everyone waiting.

“Alright, I am seeing reports of a major backup at the Build A Bear Workshop in the Ocean County Mall….Might I suggest building this type of bear instead?” it stated alongside a photo of a chocolate cake bear.

The scene was no better at the Menlo Park Mall (Photo courtesy Sean and Tommy Quinn)