The hell that is Build-a-Bear.

(84 Posts)
Orangeanddemons Thu 02-Jan-14 16:37:50

Because it is he'll.

A queue that doesn't move. At. All.
Just when the queue seems to get smaller you realise that the family in front has 3 children to do.
The yoofs who stuff them. Clearly on minimum wage
The joy of creating the birth certificate whilst a million other people are shoving and pushing round you.
The queue for the till. As above.
The joy of receiving the birth certificate and noting that it is signed by the founder. Who is raking it in. A charming touch.


NoComet Thu 02-Jan-14 16:40:35

Go on a inset day!

SuburbanRhonda Thu 02-Jan-14 16:41:13

We went when it was The Bear Factory.

DD (aged about 7 at the time) chose a bear and we took it to get stuffed , so to speak. The young person on the filling machine didn't turn it off it in time.

The bear exploded.

DD was hysterical - for days grin

nomorecrumbs Thu 02-Jan-14 16:44:23

Lol!! An exploding bear!

I would have been traumatised by that at 7 grin

Yes, I can empathise with the OP.

lookdeepintotheparka Thu 02-Jan-14 16:46:06

Oh yes we had this experience earlier this week and I'm still recovering from it shock

TBH the poor shop assistants were doing a good job keeping the queue moving and the kids entertained but it really was hell on earth I agree!!

So after an hour's wait, we got home to find the bear doesn't have enough stuffing in it so parts of it go flat when DD cuddles it - arghhh!!!

FreyaFridays Thu 02-Jan-14 16:47:09

We don't have one of these dungeons of torture in Cornwall... Unlike not having an H+M or a Wagamama's, I believe this is a wise choice.

What in God's name inspired you to go there?!

Orangeanddemons Thu 02-Jan-14 16:47:23

Lol, i would love to have seen that! It would have made my day.

Those insidious hearts that beat <shudder>. Smelly things that they shove in them that make their arses smell of strawberries.

It was a terrible experience. I wanted to punch everyone in there

I am a bad person - I laughed at the thought of an exploding bear! But I am not laughing at your poor, upset dd, SuburbanRhonda.

lookdeepintotheparka Thu 02-Jan-14 16:48:33

Suburban - they've clearly learned from the over stuffing experience then - - now they are under stuffing hmm your poor DD!

Joysmum Thu 02-Jan-14 16:48:55

Of course it's going to be busy with kids all wanting to spend their Xmas money. It's not normally like that.

Preciousbane Thu 02-Jan-14 16:49:30

I feel awful but I can't help but find the exploding bear funny.

I got DS a stuffed cat for his first birthday and recorded a personal message. By the time he was ten the recording had gone all weird and sounded like a vinyl record being played backwards and positively demonic.

yarn33 Thu 02-Jan-14 16:49:42

The horror of dealing with young people earning minimum wage...

Orangeanddemons Thu 02-Jan-14 16:50:34

Well they should have had more stuffers on then (is that a real job description?) as 2 stuffing stations were unmanned

NameoftheRose Thu 02-Jan-14 16:50:41

Exploding bear! I shall be hanging round Build a Bears hopefully from now on.

SuburbanRhonda Thu 02-Jan-14 16:50:53

Well, she clearly recovered from the trauma (she's now 18).

The re-stuffed bear is in a bag ready for eBaying. She's made of steel, that child hmm

Orangeanddemons Thu 02-Jan-14 16:51:16

I didn't mean that at all. I felt sorry for the stuffers, they should be on a bloody fortune doing that all day

yarn33 Thu 02-Jan-14 16:52:27

OK, just your OP doesn't read like that.

I love Build-a-Bear! Was a little surprised to have a conversation with another customer about how her 27 yo couldn't go anywhere without her Bear, takes it on holiday with her, buys new clothes all the time, gets it ready for bed etc every night hmm (just to clarify that I assume that 27yo has no SEN as she goes abroad with work, might be wrong but I doubt it) But it's great for little ones - just wouldn't go a couple of days after Christmas!

SuburbanRhonda Thu 02-Jan-14 16:52:47

yarn, it's the minimum wage that's the horror, not the young people, IMVHO smile

CadenceRoastingByAnOpenFire Thu 02-Jan-14 16:53:25

Yanbu.I went in my teens when it was called Bear Factory to buy a bear for my neice. The girl on the stuffing machine made me kiss the heart, close my eyes and make a sodding wish. The shop was heaving and my cool 17 year old self almost died with embarrassment grin.

ilovepowerhoop Thu 02-Jan-14 16:53:33

you can buy them online and avoid the queues.

RandomMess Thu 02-Jan-14 16:54:20

We went at 10am on a Sunday morning when most of the shops don't open until 11am in town. Had it to ourselves <<smug>> was still hellish enough though!

SuburbanRhonda Thu 02-Jan-14 16:54:39

Cadence, that's just .....

I don't know, it's just ....


Heartbrokenmum73 Thu 02-Jan-14 16:54:56

I preferred it when it was The Bear Factory.

It's very American now - we had a cardboard cutout outside our local one last year of some teenage lad (forget his name) who isn't even known in the UK! You could win the chance to meet him.

DD and all her classmates (Y6) were hmm and confused at who this boy was.

And I hate how they now do Smurf toys, Alvin and the Chipmunks toys, etc, for every sodding film that comes out.

It used to be quite cute, but now it's very garish and twee.


Orangeanddemons Thu 02-Jan-14 16:55:36

It would probably take as long as it did in the shop to buy it onlinegrin.

We queued for forty minutes today in Hamleys. Two people stuffing and offering all sorts of things to indecisive kids, doubling the queuing time.

Heartbrokenmum73 Thu 02-Jan-14 16:56:43

Oh, I remember the heart kissing and wish making!

I just looked at the girl and raised my eyebrow - then we both laughed. I did not kiss a heart or make a wish.

My friend bought me a stuffed dog - we named him Paxo grin

That was 13 years ago - he has been DD's constant companion since she was 2 - she is now 12.

penguinsforever Thu 02-Jan-14 16:56:45

Yanbu, I'm astonished by the price £30-40 for a stuffed bear in an outfit?!

Orangeanddemons Thu 02-Jan-14 16:58:01

Cadence, they still make them do that. I was trying not to be sick.

I asked the... um....stuffer who was about 19 how he managed to do that all day without being sick? . He gave me a wry smile. I told him I hoped they were paying him a bloody fortune to do it. He gave me another wry smile.....

Yoofs? hmm

Minimum wage or not they've always been lovely every time we've been in so don't really get the "clearly on minimum wage" thing.

Orangeanddemons Thu 02-Jan-14 17:01:41

Read my last post

Buffy - she is saying they are underpaid, not being nasty.

HoneyDragon Thu 02-Jan-14 17:04:55

Dd wanted to go to Build A Bear for her Birthday again this year (she loved it last year when her GPs took her) and her birthday is the week before Christmas, so it is always full of adults buying presents. This does not deter them making a fuss of her because she is small and celebrating.

But this year, made me love them.

Dd queued patiently for her turn. She was behind a woman and her friends getting a bear for her daughter.

Just as the bear was handed over, dd stepped forward and one of the friend who had not queued came up with an empty, stepped in front of dd, and said " can you quickly do this one please?" To which the young woman said "yes, but you need to queue, it's this little girls turn".

The woman turned to us and said "I'll be quick" and before I opened my mouth the assistant went "it's the little girls turn, it's her birthday and this is a teddy bear shop, and we wait our turn" and gave her daggers. grin

SuburbanRhonda shock grin

tallulah Thu 02-Jan-14 17:08:37

I went on my own before Xmas. Was a bit hmm about the woman who pushed in front of me to the stuffing queue and had two creatures to stuff, while I only had one.

DD wanted a pony so I was less than impressed to find that if you wanted roller skates not only would you have to buy two pairs but you have to buy the shoes as well for the skates to go on. Two pairs at £5 each.

But we took DD in for her birthday earlier in the year and I was impressed at the whole "experience" they give the child. Yes I know they want to get as much money as possible out of you, but they really gave her a lot of time and attention. They may have been acting but they made her feel as if she was their most important customer ever.

Gladvent Thu 02-Jan-14 17:09:59

But did you stop and join in with the Promise?! I have to say from a marketing POV I really admire BaB. They are so unashamedly money grabbing and corny and pulling on heart strings. They do it SO WELL.

I have to write speeches for VIPs now and again, and once I based it on the Build a Bear promise. Its great. Just change 'bear' for 'subject of speech'. The guy was a twat. So had no idea what I was making him read. Colleague and I were pissing ourselves laughing in the wings.

superbagpuss Thu 02-Jan-14 17:10:45

we went on a normal day ( before DC started school) for their birthday build a bears and they were the only ones in the shop - they got treated like royalty and when we told the staff our budget ( the boys had been sent vouchers from their great nan) not only did the staff try and keep us in budget, they found us vouchers so we could get more stuff

result two happy little boys grin.

however when many years ago I was making one for my flower girl I refused to kiss the heart

my dh says the bear has no soul and will one day rise up when all are asleep shock.

HoneyDragon Thu 02-Jan-14 17:11:47

Gladvent pmsl grin

Pawprint Thu 02-Jan-14 17:13:16

Oh dear god, that place...

It's a brilliant concept - I would have loved it as a child still tempted to buy a teddy for myself, every time I take ds, and buy it pyjamas, roller skates and all the accessories

Anywhere where they have queues is awful, though, so I feel your pain.

YankNCock Thu 02-Jan-14 17:15:05

I went to a birthday party at Build-A-Bear, and it was horrid, shudder to think what my friend shelled out for this bunch of preschoolers to get a bear. DS1 hated the whole thing too, when I tried to get him to name the stupid bear, he just shouted 'NOOOO!' at me, so I told the lady to put 'Noah' on the certificate.

TwoCatsInTheYard Thu 02-Jan-14 17:16:34

Perhaps we were just lucky, but the biggest impression I came away with was how wonderful the staff were with the children which somehow cancelled out the fact that it is overpriced, crowded and money-grabbing.

Chippednailvarnish Thu 02-Jan-14 17:16:55

I am fortunate enough to have never been able to decide which kidney I would have to sell to be able to afford a trip to build a bear grin.

That's great, Honey (and more places could do with staff like that).

DD used to go on their website, Bearville or something. The puns were excruciating.

Pixel Thu 02-Jan-14 17:20:45

Never been there myself but suddenly have a new respect for dd. She went there just before Christmas and got a Spongebob for her little brother. Clearly she's not the lazy, selfish teenager she so often pretends to be, if she can go through such hell for someone else grin.
<ignores fact she could have been desperate to go there and was using brother's pressie as an excuse>

KringleCandleLover Thu 02-Jan-14 17:41:37

I took my DD7 in on Nye to spend her money.

Sweet Jesus, it was rammed.

After carefully choosing the bear(persuaded dd not to purchase the khaki camouflage bear due to its ugliness),we got to the stuffing stations. All 3 were open.

Yay I hear you say.

The 'stuffer' asked dd her name and if she had any other bears. Then asked their names. Then asked what she was going to call her new furry bundle.

Any bear related question you can think of was dragged up.

By this stage I was sweating.

As the bear was nearly full, I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that after registering the new bear on them god awful computers, we would be out and free.

Oh no. Dd was then asked to pick a heart, rub it on her heart for love, her head for brains, her legs for speed, her arms for strength. She was then asked to star jump and jog to make the bear sporty.

I am not a violent person but frigg me, I came so close to shoving her head in the glass case that spins the stuffing.

If any of you were in the queue behind a clammy,slighty faint 40 something year old woman with a child who looked like she was being put through her paces by an army PE Instructor, I apologise grin

GoldenGytha Thu 02-Jan-14 17:51:48

I love Build A Bear, and so does DD2 aged 20!

DD2 bought me the purple My Little Pony a few months ago, and yes I had to kiss the heart and make a wish, but I quite liked doing it.

Think DD2 is planning to buy a pink bear later this week, using her Christmas money.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Thu 02-Jan-14 18:00:38

Lol! grin Im glad it isn't just me! It IS like hell shopping there! That said, I love wee kids and have always thought that working there would be fantastic! blush

Topaz25 Thu 02-Jan-14 18:06:52

Is it bad that I laughed at the exploding bear?

whoneedssleepanyway Thu 02-Jan-14 18:20:25

Suburban I have tears rolling down my face, I haven't laughed so much in ages, sorry blush but that exploding bear has really tickled me

shazbean Thu 02-Jan-14 18:31:16

Another one laughing at exploding teddy!
In our one the staff are magic. DD was desperate for one for her birthday so we went on a Saturday morning fully expecting hell. They were so nice to her and she was full of wonder getting the bear stuffed and wishing on the heart.

I, on the other hand, was pretty much laughing hysterically the whole time we were there (silently of course but with tears) and when they guy pointed to all the clothes and said 'here's the autumn collection' I almost wet myself.

I'm more prepared now.

Topaz25 Thu 02-Jan-14 19:52:51

I'm glad it's not just me!

Jude89 Fri 03-Jan-14 00:28:18

I very nearly got a job a tbabf but I failed their psychological assessment.

It asked questions such as "do you think people are always good" and had a scale of 1 to 5 for answering.

I think I probably had a lucky escape, although exploding bears sounds hilarious!

NoComet Fri 03-Jan-14 00:38:19

Our bears (cat, rabbit and snowman) are amongst the most loved and played with toys in the house. I confess even I have a bear.

Unlike sodding Barbies - that went in the bin, they are cuddly, their hair doesn't fuzz, their clothes don't rip and best of all.

A child can dress and undress them themselves!

DumSpiroSperHoHoHo Fri 03-Jan-14 01:09:05

I was very hmm about BaB until DD got one just before her 7th birthday at a friend's party.

We've had 'Vanessa' for 2.5 years now and made umpteen visits to our local store (Brighton) who have always been nothing less than brilliant.

Our original bear was stolen whilst we were on holiday - called them to try and engineer surreptitious replacement for when we got home and they sorted out the correct bear and outfit ready for MIL to collect.

She's been restuffed and restitched free of charge and the staff regaled with endless tales of her exploits.

They also did everything they could to help us locate the matching Smallfry which DD had set her heart on just as it was discontinued.

We have pretty much exhausted the novelty value now and probably won't be visiting so much now but Vanessa is still DD's first port of call when she's tired, poorly or upset so all in all I guess it's been time and money well spent smile .

YankNCock Fri 03-Jan-14 01:26:22

I swore I'd never go back there, but if you could guarantee me an exploding bear, I'd do it.

Skrifa Fri 03-Jan-14 03:24:10

grin at exploding teddy.

My DFriend is an ex stuffer. One woman was buying a BaB as a teddy for her ex husband (yes, shelling out the cash for all that). She named it Bastard. And didn't rub the heart. (DFriend appeared more shocked by the not rubbing the heart then the name thing hmm ). I mean, can't you just tell your ex that/email that/show that? Why shell out on a kid teddy bear?

Panzee Fri 03-Jan-14 03:37:53

I just find the whole idea, I don't know, a bit ... Silence of the Lambs?

Gladvent Fri 03-Jan-14 06:54:09

Crying proper tears at 'Bastard'. One of our bears is named Michael Jackson and I thought that was inappropriate but Bastard is a whole new level!

Jenny70 Fri 03-Jan-14 07:20:30

We had a lucky BaB escape on New Years Day - We went to fix a poorly reindeer, and my blood ran cold at the suggestion that I may need to replace it with another and join the queue of hell (some 20+ people long), but fortunately someone stitched it up and she looks as good as new.

But I was amazed at the number of people queuing for stuffings... and most with accessories to boot - maybe our economy will be revived on the backs of the build a bears!

sashh Fri 03-Jan-14 07:21:56

* Skrifa*

Maybe she is going to torture it like Alan B'Stard in the new statesman

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 03-Jan-14 07:26:48

DS loved his Build-a-Bear party when he was five, as did all the other friends. They were there at the very start of the day and were the only ones in the shop and they treated them all so well. Also great re keeping to the budget we set ahead.

Best bit of the party? No party bag needed...

Spinkle Fri 03-Jan-14 08:53:10

We love Build a Bear. But we never go on busy days.

My DS (9) has ASD and never liked soft toys much. We took him in there and the staff were lovely with him (sometimes I have to have a quick word about his ASD but didn't on this occasion) He built a bear! Small thing to parents with average kids but meant the world to us. That bear is now very very important to him and he goes everywhere with him and is his good friend.

So to us Build a Bear is a very positive thing.

LuciusMalfoyisSmokingHot Fri 03-Jan-14 08:59:11

That exploding bear has made laugh so much.

Put seriously, i hate build a bear, expensive, crowded and crap.

oldgrandmama Fri 03-Jan-14 09:06:05

Oh, grrrrrr ... took two of the grandkids to a famous toy store. Said they could choose something each, price limit a tenner. Then grandkid one saw the Build a Bear concession and that was it ... both little girls were desperate for one of the bloody things. So I weakened (said it would be early Christmas present). Older girl chose a bear, sparkly shoes, roller skates (!), frock. Her little sister was taken with a sodding thing that was meant to be a unicorn. Of course she wanted the clothes, shoes, roller skates ...

By now I was worn out (I'm in my seventies, dodgy hips), so I asked the Build A Bear assistant to help select dress for the unicorn (she was a very nice girl, by the way). We grabbed one of the dresses she showed us, then queued up for stuffing, birth certificate, thing that makes the animal 'speak', god knows what else. Cost of the things eyewatering and I was toying with saying they were not just early Christmas presents, but birthday presents too (I didn't).

Got the kids and toys back. Older child dressed her bear, very happy with it. BUT there was NO way we could get the dress onto the unicorn - it just wouldn't work. I had to tell child that that's how unicorns wear clothes (I had to sort of lay dress on its back, with hoofs forced through two sleeves) and don't think she was convinced, even though she's only three.

I did think of taking unicorn and dress back to store but couldn't face it.

MadeOfStarDust Fri 03-Jan-14 09:25:14

my girls were very sensible - "Bears don't wear clothes - how would they do the buttons up??"

So we have 2 bears that growl but don't wear clothes (other than the babygrows they had when little if "pretending")

VikingVagine Fri 03-Jan-14 09:32:53

I remember a thread a while back discussing a site where you could order a package for birthday parties (a load of ready to stuff toys and accessories to do at home), a quick google search hasn't been fruitful, can anyone remember the name?

VikingVagine Fri 03-Jan-14 09:46:29

Oh, found it!

Yeah, the exploding bears are one thing, but WTF is up with the prices???!!!

I wanted a MLP but I'm not paying £40 for one.

Tubemole1 Fri 03-Jan-14 10:09:28

Exploding bear! grin grin grin grin

So sorry but that's an image which will stay with me a long time!

TheNightIsDark Fri 03-Jan-14 10:13:52

DD has Pinkie Pie. It's lovely blush

Naked though. As a pony should be.

GhostsInSnow Fri 03-Jan-14 10:16:51

We were in LA when DD discovered BAB. This presented us with a couple of issues. 1. She had lots of money she'd saved up 2. She loved the place.

Between LA, San Deigo and Vegas she cleaned out all the BAB's to the point we had to buy an additional suitcase to get the bloody stuff back. Katie the Panda had pirate outfits and mouse ears from Disneyland, Anaheim Angels baseball outfits and even a ruddy car.
She's 16 now, Katie still sits on the end of her bed and every now and again she'll change her outfit.

I spent more time in BAB USA than anywhere else so for that reason alone YANBU.

Purplepoodle Fri 03-Jan-14 10:38:46

Went in one when it first opened near where we live with ds1,2 in tow, in buggy so must have been quite young.

Little creeped out by unstuffed toys, then looked at the prices for outfits ect, eyes watered and made a swift exit. No soft toy is worth that amount of money.

Sorry exploding bear made me laugh but probably so awful for your dd at the time.

Beating heart?!? Now I'm just creeped out.

WireCatGlitteryBaubles Fri 03-Jan-14 10:39:29

Oh my god, Build a Bear is HELL.

I was in the Westfield Stratford branch at the end of November.

My ds2 loves Pudsey Bear so I decided to get him one for Christmas.

Joined the queue.

There was also a children's party going on. On the shop floor. Very noisy.

They then shut one of the 2 stuffing stations to use for the party. The people in front had loads of bears. And the stuffers did all the usual questions etc...

But the assistants were also going up & down the queue trying to add extras to the bears, like sounds and stuff. The woman in front was getting quite annoyed as she didn't want any extras but her boy was enticed.

By the time we left the shop, I was a sweaty lump & needed a drink.

Every time I go to the shop I say it's the last time I will ever go.

It was worth it though, ds2 loves his Pudsey.

VoodooChimp Fri 03-Jan-14 11:16:54

6 yo DD loves her Build A Bear teddies but I agree the shop is hellish and the clothes are overpriced.

Top tip for BAB fans: you can get clothes and accessories from Argos that fit the Build a Bear teddies perfectly, and are loads cheaper especially in the sale. They're called design a bear.

makemineabacardi Fri 03-Jan-14 11:33:52

FIL bought DD a build-a-bear for her birthday but without any clothes cheapskate. Now every time we walk past the bloody shop she starts pestering about her 'poor naked teddy'. I refuse to set foot in there even if secretly I'd love a My Little Pony .

And the bastard (bear, not FIL) has a small hole in it. How close it must have come to exploding...grin

notallwhowander Fri 03-Jan-14 11:39:33


notallwhowander Fri 03-Jan-14 11:40:26

Think build a bear is definitely on a par with soft play on the parent torture scale...

17leftfeet Fri 03-Jan-14 11:41:14

We got trapped once

Dd got vouches for her birthday which is the week before Christmas -picked her bear and got in the stuffing queue
One of the assistants then started talking to dd and wrote her name on the label and asked what the bear was called and wrote that on the label too

Well we were past the point of no return by that point

I have MS and can only stand pain free for 20 minutes or so -we were there for an hour and 20 sodding minutes!!

Orangeanddemons Fri 03-Jan-14 12:27:46

Omg. I have just looked at Argos, there is a design a bear Furby dress up outfit on there.

I need to lie down. 2 nightmares together.

Hoppinggreen Fri 03-Jan-14 12:43:00

The staff are great in there but I remember going once and as we queued up with our hello kitty or cat, or dog, or rabbit ( no idea which one as we've got them all) me nd DD noticed that the rather camp gentleman on the till was wearing EXACTLY the same outfit as the bear displayed on the counter!!! Serious fit of the giggles from both of us. I actually asked if the outfits came in human size but he just looked at me blankly
By the way it was trousers and a shirt -- not Tinkerbell, but very funny even so

EddieVeddersfoxymop Fri 03-Jan-14 13:44:01

Our local Build a bear seems to be entirely staffed by old men.....confused.

It's very strange to see a chap in his 50s, with a bear strapped to his back in some sort of sling, pretending that he gives a shiny shite which outfit you've chosen for your stuffed bear. My DD is scared of men him and it puts her off going in, which is a crying shame as she loves dressing her bears. He's there all the time, along with other blokes who all share the same sullen, kill me now expression. Where are all the bouncy young things studentsto enthuse the kids and con the parents?

Chippednailvarnish Fri 03-Jan-14 14:14:57

I think I'd be sullen if I was nearing retirement age and my career had ended with me in a Build a Bear branch stuffing Ursidaes (is that the right term?).

Does anyone know if the Argos "Design a Bear" range clothing fit the bears from "build-a-bear"? Or am I being sucked in by the alleged uniqueness of Build-a-bear?

VoodooChimp Fri 03-Jan-14 14:22:07

Yes the design a bear clothes definitely fit build a bears. I doubt they'd fit the more unusually shaped ones like ponies or reindeers, but they defo fit the ordinary bears/rabbits/cats.

We have that furby costume orangesandlemons DD's cute little bunny rabbit is currently dressed as an evil purple furby grin

LadyIsabellasHollyWreath Fri 03-Jan-14 14:37:32

I think the staff are normally pretty good. If you're of a soppy disposition then it's probably quite a fun job despite the shit wages, sure beats frying chips for drunks at Chicken Shack.

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