Build-A-Bear Workshop announced on July 9th that July 12th would be "Pay Your Age" Day meaning any child could get a stuffed animal for the price of their age, no matter what the retail price of the bear. Some characters cost upwards of $40 so this was seen as a great deal. What I didn't expect (and what Build-A-Bear didn't expect) was the massive turn out that occurred at each of their locations first in the UK and then in the US. Perhaps I was naive, but I went to my local workshop expecting to wait 1-3 hours, and well, it was longer than that.
My local workshop is located inside of a mall (like most of the Build-A-Bear Workshops) and this mall usually opens at 10AM, in my mind I thought getting there either right at 10 or by 10:30 should allow me to be in front of the line (if there was one) OH HOW WRONG I WAS.
Apparently, parents and children started lining up prior to 9AM and this prompted the mall and Build-A-Bear to open up their store early. While in line a woman walked by with her daughter happily carting her bear's "home" (the box) and said she had been waiting since 8:30AM and they just checked out, it was 12:30PM.
By that point I had been in line for 2 hours, my little princess was being an absolute angel, I kept saying as soon as she started to meltdown we would leave so at the 2 hour point, hearing this woman say it took her 4 hours, I said okay, let's give it a go.
I'm not sure how the workshop started the day but also around 12:30PM it seemed the line that was moving at a reasonable pace came to a halt. We were practically rooted to our spot for 45 minutes. Later, when I got to the front of the line it became clear that they were only allowing a certain amount of people into the actual store at a time. While this was great when you were in the store, standing in line in the same spot was enough to make anyone go mad.
Once we were lined up next to the glass of the store, at about 5 hours in, the wait started to become unBEARable. You could see what inventory was left (and I have to say, our location had A LOT) and you were just itching to get in and at this point to be done with it.
The kids behind me ranged from 1 to 8 between two mom friends and they were stars! They kept their spirits up, they never wavered and they entertained my little girl. Once we hit the store front their excitement was bursting and it gave myself and their moms renewed energy. Even better still, was this location had not run out of Pokemon characters which is exactly what one little boy REALLY wanted. I'm so happy he did not leave disappointed.
In The Workshop
Prior to entering you were given a sticker with the number of birthdays you had celebrated. My little girl got a "1" and then I was given a "1" for our baby on the way! Spending $1 was the minimum allowed, so if your infant was 6 months old you'd pay $1.
Entering the store made you feel like you "made it" and since there were so few people in at a time you could browse and see what they had and not feel rushed to make a quick decision. The staff inside were great, they were smiling, they were friendly, making small talk - I really have to give it up for them because I'm sure they heard their share of crying, screaming and complaints yet by the time we were in the store, 5PM (6 hours in for me, longer day for them) they didn't seem aggravated, annoyed or even tired at all.
For those keeping score at home, yes, I had been there for 6 hours and I still wasn't walking out with a bear, yet.
Once we selected our unstuffed bears it was time for the stuffing station, since this workshop is a smaller store there was only one stuffing station, a young girl working on each end. It was starting to make sense as to why the whole day had taken so long. We would wait in line at the stuffing station for 1 hour.
We had the option to take our unstuffed bears home but 6 hours in, you want to leave with the completed bear. You did not want to think about going back there any time soon. Plus, the stuffing station was the fun part, that was the part that would be exciting to watch.
After an hour (7 hours total) it was our turn to stuff. C kissed the heart of the bear for her new little sibling and I pushed the pedal to make the stuffing fly which C was amazed by. Then she kissed the heart of her princess bear and we headed on over to the register.
The register, that had only 1 person working it. Another line. This time taking about 15 to 20 minutes. But after the day was through I paid $2 (plus tax) for two bears and the cost of our lunch that we ate in line.
Honestly, it wasn't a bad day out of the house. Would I do it again? I guess the question is, will Build-A-Bear offer this promotion again? If they did, I think I would give it a go, and as long as my kids weren't kicking and screaming, I'd happily do it all over again.