When Bears Go Bad
Yesterday will definitely go down as the craziest day in Build-A-Bear’s 21 year history. What started as a quirky but fun “Pay Your Age” promotion, resulted in an absolute meltdown of stores closing, crying kids going home bear-less, and angry parents swearing off the stuffed animal retailer on social media. The problem was simple – it was just too good of a promotion to be executed correctly. Typical Build-A-Bears retail for $25-35 each, so younger children came out in droves yesterday to get the best deal of their lifetimes. The crowds got so big that the stores ran out of bear-making supplies and had to start closing all over the country.
In an emergency move Build-A-Bear started handing out $15 off vouchers for children standing in line who didn’t get their bears, which was an admirable attempt to assuage the uproar. However it still didn’t fix the problem of giving kids what they came for. So was this a PR stunt gone off the rails or just too much of a good idea? In reality it was probably a little bit of both. It was also a reminder about rule #1 in promotions – don’t make any promises you can’t keep. It looks like Build-A-Bear found out that lesson out the hard way yesterday.