Build-a-Bear Workshops’ promotion Thursday was supposed to be simple – “pay your age for any furry friend in the store!” But the turnout in the United States, Canada and Britain was so huge that the company had to shut it down because of safety concerns.
Parents and children stood in lines that wrapped around blocks or stretched throughout shopping malls as they waited for their turns to put together a stuffed animal. The toys normally sell for as much as $75 with most falling in the $20 to $32 range.
At the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, people started lining up at 6 a.m. and more than 500 were in line before noon, the Star Tribune reported. Just hours later, the company tweeted that the promotion was being suspended because of safety concerns.
The chaos at the stores had tempers flaring, and The Sun newspaper in London reported that fights broke out in the line in Newcastle. Store employees in Belfast, Northern Ireland, were assaulted in front of children, some Twitter posts said.
Later in the afternoon, the company apologized for the disappointment and referred customers to its website for information
In the St. Louis area, one disappointed customer told the Post-Dispatch that he and his two children had arrived about 15 minutes before the store was scheduled to open, thinking they would be first in line.
“That was obviously not the case,” Nate Kromat said. “I forgot that the mall actually opens early for mall walkers, so I think a lot of people got there earlier than we did.”