Business World

Friday 21 September 2018

Build-A-Bear stores forced to close as 'Pay Your Age' day leads to 'extreme crowds and safety concerns'

Queues in Belfast
Queues in Belfast
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Build-A-Bear has advised customers not to plan a visit to its stores on Thursday after a planned "Pay Your Age" event led to "extreme crowds and safety concerns".

The stuffed toy chain retailer, which has outlets across Ireland, the UK, Canada and the US, was holding a special workshop on July 12.

Any furry friend could be picked up at the store, Republic of Ireland excluded, for the price of the age of the child purchasing it.

However, Build-A-Bear said there had been an "unprecedented" response to the promotion for the bears, which normally cost more than €20.

"The response to our Pay Your Age Day event at all of our UK locations has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history," a company statement read.

"The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations and, per local authorities, queues are at capacity and we cannot accept additional guests due to extreme crowds and safety concerns.

"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."

Throughout the day, staff have been advising customers that they may be queueing for hours to avail of the offer, following the retailer's warning that long lines and waiting times were anticipated.

Belfast's Victoria Square outlet was one of the stores affected and shop management took the decision to pull down the shutters.

One mother Elizabeth McGrogan took footage outside of the store of the "absolute carnage over a fluffy bear".

"The manager was crying at the front door in front of kids and parents .... awful."

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