Build-A-Bear sale forces stores to close: 1,200 stood in line at NJ mall
CHERRY HILL — A "pay your age" promotion at Build-A-Bear Workshop was so successful the chain shut down all its stores in the country, including eight in New Jersey.
The chain called the promotion its biggest ever with a simple premise: "How old you are is how much your furry friend costs," according to a statement from the company on its website. Participants had to be members of its Bonus Club but membership is free and sign-up was available at each location.
A security guard at the Cherry Hill Mall estimated about 1,200 people got into the mall's store before the line was closed off. Customers were packed inside the store, making bears even after the lines were closed.
"Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our U.S. Build-A-Bear Workshop locations due to crowd and safety concerns," read a message on the store's website. "We have closed lines in our U.S. stores. We understand some of our Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible."
The mall's marketing manager, Lisa Wolstromer, said they were prepared with stanchions in front of the store but once the crowds grew they brought in extra security. The manager of the store, who was stitching up a Pokemon bear for a customer, couldn't comment on how many people were inside but one of her workers said it was "a lot."
One mother said the line was already long when the store officially opened at 9:30 a.m.
The Cherry Hill location also handed out $15 vouchers to those who were turned away.
Sisters Rachel Stanley and Loretta Wells from Vineland and their kids ages 6,4,2,and 1 arrived at Cherry Hill and were surprised at the number of people already lined up. "This is crazier than Black Friday," Stanley said.
Kamara Lowther of Blackwood came with a party of 8. She arrived around 9:40 a.m. “I thought they opened at 10. They opened an hour before and as soon as I got here, they cut off the line.”
Debra Panzarella, Senior Manager of Marketing for the Freehold Raceway Mall said there were lots of kids and their parents standing in line.
"We had a constant line that went around the upper level from Build-A-Bear to Primark and back up to Center Court,"
The promotion represented quite a bargain for customers. Bears are normally priced between $15 and $75. There were no restrictions on which bears were eligible for the promotion.
Jasmine Rodriguez and Suzanne Kirby contributed to this report