Build-A-Bear Workshop was forced to stop accepting customers for its “Pay Your Age” sale on Thursday after thousands of eager children and their parents flocked to stores across the United States, creating chaos that even authorities couldn’t control.
The toy company said local authorities had forced locations to limit the number of people in line after massive crowds gathering outside stores, including in malls, caused safety concerns.
“We have closed lines in our U.S. and Canada stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible,” the company wrote on its website shortly after several stores opened for the event.
Build-A-Bear confirmed rumors about its discount earlier this week. The promotion, for Bonus Club members only, allowed customers to buy any stuffed toy for the same price as their age. The price of a full-priced stuffed toy could range between $12 and $65.
“It’s easy — how old you are is how much your furry friend costs!” the company said.
The promotion was so successful on Thursday that it incited both happiness and anger in stores in the U.S. and across the world.
Several photos from malls nationwide showed children and their stroller-totting parents standing in long lines that wrapped around the floor several times. Lines extended around parking lots as customers waited in the summer heat, even holding out umbrellas to shade them from the sun.
At Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree, Colo., a store worker said an estimated 1,800 to 2,000 people were waiting to snag a discounted stuffed toy by 11 a.m. Thursday.
Those in line were expected to wait six to eight hours, the store worker told KDVR.
One father told KGO he arrived at the San Jose, Calif. location at 5:30 a.m. to be the first one in line.
“[My son] is 7 years old and I figured he needs [a Build-A-Bear toy]. And today is my 50th birthday it makes it even special,” the father said, adding that the promotion was an “awesome deal especially considering it’s normally $35.”
Many parents were left “fuming” once encountering the long lines and hearing about the cut off.
"@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 mother in the United Kingdom wrote on Twitter.
Another parent tweeted, "My Dil and I spent over two hours at the Nashua NH mall..beginning before , and had to leave when our 4 littles began to cry bless. Very disappointed in the [experience]."
“I love you @buildabear but today I was disappointed. I waited 3 hours with my kids, and then given the same coupon they gave to people who just went to the front of the store without waiting. They originally cutoff behind us. There were still bears/ supply. #buildabear,” another mother said.
Those who were able to make it in the story and take advantage of the sale said the wait was all worth it.
Several stores began handing out $15 vouchers to parents who were already waiting in line. However, those who arrived after the line announcement were out of luck trying to get a voucher.
“It is what it is,” one parent told KHOU in Houston, Texas.