A promotion at Build-A-Bear stores in Charlotte Thursday morning turned out to be much more popular than planned, drawing lines of hundreds of customers in a Black Friday-like frenzy at Carolina Place Mall and Concord Mills.
Build-A-Bear’s first-ever “Pay Your Age Day,” which, as its name suggests, lets customers pay their current age in U.S. dollars for a stuffed bear, prompted local malls to turn people away as they closed the lines to the stores. Build-A-Bear customized stuffed animals cost between $10 and $75, according to the company’s website.
The frenzy mirrored problems around the state and country. The store in Raleigh’s Crabtree Valley Mall, for instance, eventually had to close its line.
By late morning, Build-A-Bear had posted an alert on its website saying that it could not accept any more customers at its U.S. stores.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“Due to the overwhelming response, Build-A-Bear Workshop has closed the lines for the Pay Your Age promotion. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please direct all inquiries to Build-A-Bear Workshop by calling 1-877-789-2327,” Carolina Place Mall wrote in a midday Facebook post.
Concord Mills similarly said local authorities asked that lines be closed “due to crowds and safety concerns.”
Representatives from Concord Mills and Carolina Place Mall could not be reached for comment.
The decision to close the lines left customers frustrated.
Another person sarcastically added on Twitter: “NASA now reporting they can see the queues outside Build A Bear workshops from space.”
Some stores distributed $15 coupons for shoppers who were turned away Thursday, WCNC reported.
Build-A-Bear crowds were huge in malls outside Charlotte, too.
Shoppers waited for up to eight hours at a London mall, where the lines stretched “about a mile long,” one customer told the BBC. Lines of customers snaked through a Chandler mall in Arizona, a city southeast of Phoenix, according to a local ABC TV station.
High customer demand at malls bucks a trend that retailers have been experiencing as online shopping grows more popular: Mall foot traffic has been on the decline for years. Given the weakened demand, between 20 and 25 percent of American malls will have closed by 2021, according to a 2017 Credit Suisse report.