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Build-A-Bear ‘pay your age’ offer abandoned amid ‘chaos’

Build-A-Bear ‘pay your age’ offer abandoned amid ‘chaos’
The Rock shopping centre Image copyright @therockbury
Image caption The Rock shopping centre in Bury, Greater Manchester, said queues were building at 10:45 BST

A cheap teddy offer which left shoppers with young children queuing for up to eight hours amid chaotic scenes has been abandoned over “safety concerns”.

Build-A-Bear Workshop was offering UK customers a chance to buy any bear, which can cost up to £52, for the price of their child’s age.

At Leeds’ White Rose Shopping Centre police were called when queues of “about a mile long” formed.

The company said the response had been “overwhelming and unprecedented”.

Image copyright Paul Shaw
Image caption Police were called to the White Rose Centre in Leeds due to the popularity of the “pay your age” event

Several stores, including the shops at Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre, Telford and Basingstoke, had to shut for the rest of the day following demand.

Leeds shopper Paul Shaw said: “Crazy scenes at the White Rose – Build-A-Bear is in chaos.

“Queuing from the store, all the way outside, approximately five-hour queue. There are even police here trying to keep the peace.”


At the scene: Sophie Madden, BBC News, Telford

The queue was already enormous by the time I got there on my day off with my son.

Someone told us that people had been queuing there since 06:30 BST and one woman told us she had travelled for more than an hour to get there because it was her closest store.

We waited an hour-and-a-half but it was too much for my little boy and I thought there would be no bears left so we took a £12 voucher that could be redeemed another time.


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Media captionTwitter user @JRW_Fitness walked the length of this queue in Blackpool

Parents on social media criticised the event, saying they were “disgusted” by the lack of organisation. Some said their children were left “heartbroken” when they could not get a bear.

The Intu Metrocentre store stopped more people joining the queue “to ensure there are enough bears available for those in the queue”.

Amanda Bailey, 42, from Mickleover, started queuing outside the Derby shop with her two daughters, aged two and five, at 09:10 and did not get inside until 12:40.

“I thought I would give the queue an hour and then you get sucked in,” she said.

“Once inside it took a further two hours to get her bears because of the “stuffing counter queues”.

She said although she saved quite a bit on the cost of the £21.50 she bought for both children, she added: “When I look back I will probably think, ‘what have I done that for?’, especially with what I will end up paying for parking.”

Image caption Amanda Bailey queued for hours at the Derby store with daughters Paige (pictured) and Amelia

Jolene Quarrell, 34, of Swadlincote, said she and her friend spent about the same length of time queuing both outside and inside the Derby store.

“I thought it would be nice for the kids but it’s been a bit too hectic to enjoy it,” she said.

Image caption Customers in the Derby shop said it took them another two hours to buy bears once in the store because of extra queues

In a statement on its Facebook page, Build-A-Bear Workshop said: “We understand our guests are disappointed, and we are working to address the situation.

“We will reach out directly to our valued guests as soon as possible.”

A mother in Milton Keynes said she had taken her five-year-old daughter out of school to ensure they could get in the queue for a discounted bear.

“She’s only five, they’re not really doing much in school that’s important at that age,” she said.

Image copyright Greg Robertson
Image caption Crowds queued through The Centre in Livingston, West Lothian – and spilled out on to the pavement outside

Some customers praised the efforts of staff working at stores around the country who remained calm during the situation and offered vouchers to those who could not get in for the event.

Image copyright @intuChapelfield
Image caption The Intu shopping centre in Chapelfield, Norwich, warned customers the queue was “extremely long”

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