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Here’s how you can still ‘pay your age’ at Build-a-Bear after its chaotic first try

Thousands flock to Build-A-Bear event across nation

Build-A-Bear locations across the country, including the Tacoma Mall, were so overwhelmed by the turnout for its first-ever "Pay Your Age" promotion, they were forced to turn away customers.
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Build-A-Bear locations across the country, including the Tacoma Mall, were so overwhelmed by the turnout for its first-ever "Pay Your Age" promotion, they were forced to turn away customers.

Build-a-Bear probably knew their ‘Pay Your Age’ promotion would be popular. They just might not have known quite how popular.

But even after a chaotic first try, the bear workshop is giving “Pay Your Age” another go — only this time there’s a catch: It’ll only work on birthdays.

The company, which usually takes up residence in malls and allows kids (and kids at heart) to create their own stuffed animal from scratch, announced a promotion earlier in June that anyone would be able to come to the store and pay their own age for a bear.

Even kids as little as 1 -year-old could get in on the deal.

But a massive response forced the company to reconsider its plans Thursday. Hundreds of people waited in lines that sometimes snaked out of the building and around corners, and thousands of people were given vouchers inviting them to purchase a bear at another time.

“Based on the unprecedented response to our Pay Your Age Day event in our early opening stores, we are experiencing significantly longer than expected lines and large crowds. Local authorities are requiring us to limit the lines and crowds due to safety concerns,” the company said in a statement. “We understand this is disappointing. We are working to address the situation, and we will be reaching out to our valued guests soon.”

Now, Build-a-Bear is trying again. But this time, there are a few catches the company hopes will tamp down the flood of hopeful bear buyers.

The new deal will still allow you to ‘pay your age’ to get a bear. But now, it will only work on your birthday, and will only apply to one “Birthday Treat Bear,” a brown bear with sprinkled blue feet and a smile.

The offer is also only available to Bonus Club members, which is free to join. There is no need for proof of age, according to the company.

Build-a-Bear CEO Sharon Price John told TODAY there was no way they could have predicted the scale of the response to the original sale.

“We did see it wind up in social (media), and we did put a notice out for people that we thought the lines could be long, and we worked with the malls, but it was beyond anything we could’ve ever imagined.”

Chuck-E-Cheese, the kid’s pizza and arcade powerhouse, swept in after the kerfuffle and offered their own version of the deal the next day, a “Pay Your Age” for a 30-minute play pass.

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