Building Bears!

My kids were invited to the local Build A Bear Workshop to give the experience a try so whilst we were in the area, I persuaded my hubby to come along too for some Christmas shopping.

We had a fab day, it's been ages since we went shopping together but I have to say, the Build A Bear experience just blew me away!

I've never been into that store before, my kids have done it once before when their uncle took them to get a bear, so I had no preconceptions other than I'd noticed when passing that the store always seems busy. I get easily put off by crowds, I prefer to shop when it is quieter with fewer queues, but having gone through the experience in store, I have to say the queues are worth it and if you are planning a trip there, don't expect to be quickly in and out. If you plan that it will take a little time to get round the store, you can relax and fully enjoy the whole visit.

The Build A Bear website describes the in store ambience as a retail-entertainment experience, and this is truly an accurate way to describe it. We were met at the door by a member of staff who guided us round and looked after us for the whole visit. Vicki who was our guide was fantastic. She took the time to ask and remember all of our names - not just the children, and she used them throughout the store, so she felt like a friend at the end of the visit - I even gave her a hug upon leaving, she genuinely seemed to care about how we found the whole experience and she patiently explained every part of the process, because your bear goes through a series of events that happen whilst you are making it!

Vicki and the store manager knew that I was a blogger and would be writing about the experience afterwards, so cynics may say that of course I would have a positive experience, but the other staff members were not aware and we got the smile, the attention and the service from them too, so I'm confident in saying that if you go to the Build A Bear Workshop, you will be greeted with a warm welcome and excellent service.

I asked about what it would be like for customers if the store was really busy, would a staff member take them round like we experienced, and I was told that when it is quieter, staff can be more hands on all the way around, but when it is really busy then customers will go from one 'station' to the next around the store on their own, but that there is a staff member at each key point to assist with any queries.

The layout of the store allows the foot traffic to flow naturally from the right hand side of the store, down the length of the store, hitting each station and back up the left hand side of the store to the till. There are overhead signs to show you the next step, but my 8 and 4 year old didn't even look at these and they instinctively knew where to go next.

At the start of the store you see all the bears on display and you choose your new bear. They have what I'd call basic teddy bears (brown, soft cuddly bears) and also bears with jazzy prints, bears that are camouflage, reindeer toys, other animals that are stuffed - these are called 'furry friends', and branded toys like the Hello Kitty range. When big name movies come out during the year, the Build A Bear Workshop often gets the soft toy versions, so this year they had the Smurfs in (which sold out across the country!) and they currently have the new penguins from the new Happy Feet movie that is about to be launched.

Here is a video I recorded in store when my children had chosen their new bears....


The day was a unique experience. If you have someone in your life who is having an occasion coming up, you can find a bear to suit. They had loads of types of bear- a graduation bear with cap and gown, a wedding bear, a corporate suit bear (maybe for someone's first job?), cheerleader bears, football bears- you name it! They even had bear accessories like a bear wheelchair, a bear stroller, bear roller skates, a bear sofa bed and you can even get your bear a wardrobe to put all these outfits in!

Vicki told me that their store is always really busy in the week between Christmas and New Year, as loads of children get gift vouchers to buy their own bear. I can see why- it is nice to be able to buy a bear for someone which is completely personalised but if your gift is for children, they will love to go round the store and experience making a bear for themselves.

Every year Children in Need partner with Build A Bear Workshop so families can give money to the charity by visiting the store and making a special limited edition bear. Here is a picture of Pudsey Bear:


The Pudsey bear is really cute, but my kids had already spotted the patterned bears they chose! Children in Need day is this Friday - the 18th November 2011. You can find more information at www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey

You can learn more about the Build A Bear Workshop at www.buildabear.co.uk

Thank you to the Build A Bear Workshop in Leeds who hosted our visit and for the personalised bear each that was given to my children.

Thanks for visiting! You are looking hot today! x

2 comments:

  1. Have to say nadine i loved your blog,and im afraid to say we have been to Build A Bear lots and lots off times as my purse would tell you,lol but every single time we have been we have always been treated the same with the up most respect,they love the kids and always have plenty off time for them and are always very happy to help!!!!

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  2. I'm glad you loved the blog Chelle! Thanks for your lovely comment:-)

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