Build-A-Bear limits store promotion as crowds build a logjam

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc, the global stuffed-animal retailer, had to limit a popular pay-your-age event on Thursday as long lines stretched outside its U.S., Canada and UK stores and crowds clogged mall corridors.

The one-day promotion, available only in the retailer’s stores, allowed customers to buy a furry friend for a dollar price equal to the person’s age. Customers would pay a minimum of $1 and no more than $29 for any stuffed animal in stock.

Teddy bears were priced from $6 to $75 on the store’s website on Thursday. The promotion included stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our U.S. Build-A-Bear Workshop locations due to crowd and safety concerns,” the company said in a statement.

Authorities closed some Build-A-Bear stores and the retailer was forced to limit the line at other locations, the company said in a later statement.

“We feel it is important to share that, based on the information available to us before the day began, we could not have predicted this unprecedented reaction to our Pay Your Age Day event,” Build-A-Bear said.

Photos on social media showed crowded lines of adults, children and strollers inundating shopping mall corridors.

Angela Ricardo said she was heartbroken the line was closed off in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, shortly after that store opened.

“Like many, we didn’t made the cut. This was supposed to be a surprise for my 8 month old’s 1st birthday ... what a SURPRISE indeed,” Ricardo wrote on Twitter. “Definitely not a great experience.”

The company said vouchers for a future purchase were distributed to people waiting in line and would be honored through Aug. 31.

St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear has some 400 stores worldwide.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis