If a child asks you to take them to Build-a-Bear in the mall, beware. I don’t want to knock the company or take any sales away from them because they are very good at what they do. In fact, a lot of companies seem to be good at this strategy, that I will call, sell to the kids. My only caution is that if you go, be prepared to spend a fortune. I did just that today when I decided to take two children to this store in the mall today.
This is how it works. First, you pick an animal design from a row of bins at the side of the store. On top of each bin is a finished-fully-stuffed animal so that you know what it will look like when you are done. The stuffed animal that you want to get is really just a shell when you pick it up at this stage.
Next, you take your chosen animal shell to a lady who sits beside a stuffing machine. She slides the animal over a tube and the child then pushes a foot petal that starts the machine. The lady moves the bear around so that it gets completely filled with the stuffing.
After that, the child gets to pick a small cloth heart from a bin. The lady asks the child to kiss the heart and rub it on their heart, face, arms, etc. It is a ritual apparently. After it is completed, the lady asks you to blow on the heart so that we can give it the “breath of life.” She then asks you to place it inside the bear. Finally, she sews it up and gives it to the child.
But that is not all. No.
After you have your bear made, you take it to a shower. It is really just a forced air machine that is once again operated by the children by way of a foot petal. Then once you bear is “clean” from its “shower,” you can pick out an outfit and accessories for it.
I tell you, the outfits they had were really impressive and could fit any taste or imagination. They had dresses of all sort, sports uniforms, t-shirts, and even superhero costumes. There were tonnes of accesories such as purses, cell phones, skateboards, hair, etc to choose from. You could also put a device in your bear that would give it a heartbeat or a voice when you squeezed it. Of course, all these extras cost extra.
Once you were all done, you typed in a computer to create a birth certificate for your creation.
We picked up the birth certificates at the front counter and were given a box that looked likes a house. So for the whole experience, you get to take your new friend home in his or her own little house, complete with a birth certificate.
Selling to the kids makes sense because we like to see our children have everything. I wanted to give them this experience, but I tell you I had a hard time not wincing at the price and running out of the store. All in all, I bought two stuffed animals and one outfit and the bill came in at just under $90.
It was quite an impressive show and I could see why kids would love this experience. I thought it was cool too until I looked at the price tags. So, if you intend to go, be prepared to spend a fortune. I just thought I’d warn you.