What sounded like a too-good-to-be-true promotion turned into just that when thousands of parents and their cubs, er … kids, waited in lines across the globe at Build-A-Bear stores for “pay your age” day.
Sounds like a great deal, right?
Well, yes. Of course paying your age, especially if you have younger children, sounds like an amazing deal for stuffed animals that normally cost anywhere from $12 to $35 – plus the cost of outfits and accessories.
The offer was open to Bonus Club members, the company’s loyalty program, to kick off its year-round birthday celebration. The company found that nearly one-third of all sales come during a child’s birthday month, as it’s a special experience. Now, all members can “pay their age” during their birthday month throughout the year.
The CEO of Build-A-Bear, Karen Price John, made an appearance on the Today Show after the pandamonium and was apologetic for the debacle, saying they were fully staffed and fully stocked, but there just wasn’t enough time in the day to accommodate every customer through the process.
But was it a huge fail for the company? On one hand, it’s hard to imagine they didn’t see the crowds coming, especially with how nuts people are over Black Friday deals. They also didn’t do a great job conveying the purpose behind the promotion: it’s available to all Bonus Club members during their birthday month. So, you end up with annoyed parents and crying kids when the lines get long and malls get hot. On the other hand, it had millions of people talking about the company and the experience it provides in a retail climate that’s lacking a personal touch.
But honestly, there was no ill-intent from the company. In theory, this promotion is a great way to kick off the member perk, it just wasn’t executed beary well. Since then, they have reiterated the year-round birthday promotion and encourage all customers to get the $15 voucher and redeem it before the end of the summer.
As someone who grew up going to Build-A-Bear and taking my younger cousins to the shop as a special birthday treat, I think they’ll rebound and people will see they did everything they could to right the wrong. At the end of the day, it’s bringing people into the store for an experience that is special for kids.