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Build-a-Bear's one day sale was so successful it was shut down after long lines created safety issues at malls across the country
Parents were overjoyed at the Pay Your Age deal on Thursday, July 12. The event allowed guests to walk in and pick out a plush toy for the cost of your child's age.
Except that lines were so long that eager children were turned away.
NewsChopper 2 flew over Arbor Place in Douglasville where the line was out the door backed up so far it was outside of the mall.
“There’s probably at least a good 400 -500 people in front of me still," said Thasha Bigby.
Bigby brought her mother who she said was recently diagnosed with lupus, her 11-year old daughter and 1-year-old for the experience.
The company said safety was their greatest concern.
"Simon, I guess is like the owner of the mall, and when they came in they started to freak out because the line was like a snake curve, it wrapped around twice all the way around the mall," Bigby said.
Thursday afternoon, Build-A-Bear announced it was ending the promotion, saying the sale generated "an overwhelming response."
**Urgent Alert:— Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear) July 12, 2018
Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our locations due to crowd safety concerns. We have closed lines in our stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible. https://t.co/aSFfPCcfsG pic.twitter.com/WZJ53tOAEH
Customers who were turned away were given a voucher that can be redeemed for a future purchase. In a statement, the company said the vouchers will be available to Build-a-Bear Bonus Club members in the U.S. and Canada.
Members will have to log into their account by midnight on July 15. The vouchers will be honored until Aug. 31.
“Now, you’re telling me to walk away with a $15 off coupon so then her experience gets cut and I don’t think my 11-year-old should have to understand that," Bigby said.
She wasn't the only one upset. Livid parents took to social media in the U.S. and the U.K. to rage.
Build a Bear today is more popular than Roman Reigns pic.twitter.com/ALFK6Shspx— John-Luke (@JohnLuke_PW) July 12, 2018
@buildabear #PayYourAgeDay was a horrible idea. Got to @NatickMall 20 minutes before they opened at 10am and I’m still a good 2 hours before we get to store. Made us sign up for this membership maybe you should have made reservations. #UnhappyCustomers #buildabear #crying4yearold— Carolyn LaRose (@DisneyTinkGal) July 12, 2018
Shout outs to @buildabear for not allowing all the kids to participate in pay your age day today! Closing the lines because it’s busy?? What did you think was going to happen? What about for the parents who work until night time? What were we supposed to do?— Catherine Parr (@Catheri37301704) July 12, 2018
The company released this statement about the vouchers:
We understand that many Guests were turned away as, due to safety concerns created by the crowds, authorities in certain locations closed Build-A-Bear stores and, in other locations, we were forced to limit the line. Unfortunately, given these circumstances, we were unable to serve all of our Guests for the Pay Your Age Day event.
In response, we distributed vouchers to Guests, who were present in lines, to be redeemed for a future purchase. We are now making vouchers available to our Build-A-Bear Bonus Club members in the U.S. and Canada who log into their account by midnight on July 15, 2018. Vouchers related to this event will be honored through August 31, 2018.
It is our sincere desire for all of our Guests to enjoy the best Build-A-Bear experience possible. As such, our goal with the voucher extension is 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. Therefore, we strongly encourage Guests to consider delaying their trip to Build-A-Bear, and we appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience in this matter.