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Build-A-Bear Reveals ‘Pay Your Age’ Disaster Was Actually a Major Success

Beary good news for the company.


When Build-A-Bear launched its “Pay Your Age” promotion last July, it had to be shut down due to overwhelming crowds and limited stock. However, the toy company just revealed that the campaign, which many deemed a failure, was actually a massive success.

“It was bigger than anyone could have possibly imagined,” said CEO Sharon Price John of the “Pay Your Age” promotion at the ICR Conference on Monday. “[It] actually proved quite a point to the power of the Build-A-Bear brand.”

On July 12, Build-A-Bear’s campaign allowed customers who were part of the loyalty program to pay a price equal to their age in years. For example, if a child was 10 years old, they would pay just $10 for a stuffed animal (most of the plushes at Build-A-Bear typically cost between $20 and $40).

Unfortunately, the deal proved to be too good to be true as stores were flooded with more customers than the company had anticipated or could handle. It was so out of control that Build-A-Bear had to cancel the promotion early, tweeting, “we cannot accept additional Guests at our locations due to crowd safety concerns.”

But according to John, that day, which had the highest customer turnout in the company’s history with over half a million visitors, was a positive experience for Build-A-Bear. Not only did it achieve John’s goal of driving more traffic to their mall stores, but it also led to double-digit increases in sales for the quarter.

And shoppers can still get a similar deal when they visit the store during their birth month. With “Birthday Treats Bear,” customers pay whatever age they are turning. They can also join the loyalty program to be eligible for “Count Your Candles,” where kids can build their own bear and only pay a price equal to their age.