Generally for a retail store, attracting a crowd is good news.
Unless, of course, that crowd is too big to serve, in which case, life goes from a successful day at the shop to an exercise in controlled anarchy — particularly if the crowd has to be turned away without completing their desired purchases.
Such was the peril that Build-A-Bear Workshop faced yesterday when it opened its doors for a promotion that was meant to allow parents to build a bear for the cost of their child’s age — bring a 5-year-old child, get a $5 bear.
Unfortunately, consumers were a little too enthused. Long lines formed even before stores opened, and eventually, at about 11:30 in the morning, the company issued warnings on social media that it would be limiting participation in the event across all its locations, citing safety concerns.
There would not be bears for all, and customers across the globe got angry on social media.
“@buildabear not being able to supply the demand on pay-your-age day is bad. making kids have to attend and being turned away at the door is disgusting. #promofail #PayYourAge #buildabear #angryparent,” one angry mother tweeted.
“@buildabear @emma1885 angry and fuming, we are working parents, my wife is having to drive 100 miles after work to get to a store to take up the offer, and now we have a 2 year old in meltdown she’s not getting a bear, perhaps your MD wants to consul her @BBCWatchdog #buildabear,” wrote another.
Parents who got through reported waiting as much as six hours to get their hands on their bear, according to some accounts on social media.
Build-A-Bear representatives said that the response to the promotion was “overwhelming and unprecedented.”
“The response to our Pay Your Age Day event has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history, and the safety of our guests and associates is our top priority.”