- Build-A-Bear is celebrating its explosive “Pay Your Age Day” deal as a game-changing success.
- In July, stores were plunged into what some customers called “madness,” as shoppers crowded into malls and waited for hours for the “Pay Your Age” deal.
- Six months later, the company says that the deal proved the power of the Build-A-Bear brand and has played an important role in birthday-centric sales, which make up a third of business.
- “It was bigger than anyone could have possibly imagined,” Build-A-Bear CEO Sharon Price John said Monday.
ORLANDO, Florida – Build-A-Bear’s explosive “Pay Your Age” deal was bigger than anyone – including Build-A-Bear – could have imagined.
In mid-July, Build-A-Bear debuted the “Pay Your Age” deal. For one day, loyalty program members could pay the amount equal to their age for a stuffed animal from the retailer. In other words, if a shopper is 12 years old, he or she could pay $12 for a stuffed animal.
The deal plunged stores into chaos as shoppers flooded malls and waited in lines for hours in an effort to get a deal on the stuffed animals. Before the day was half over, Build-A-Bear said it would not allow any more customers to enter locations, citing “crowds and safety concerns.”
Despite the chaos and initial explosion of angry customers, Build-A-Bear CEO Sharon Price John said that the event was ultimately a massive success.
According to John, speaking at the ICR conference in Orlando, Florida, on Monday, Build-A-Bear created Pay Your Age to highlight its relaunched e-commerce platform and loyalty program, hoping to convince new people to sign up. Build-A-Bear had also recently launched a new “Birthday Treats Bear” aimed at birthday shoppers, as a third of the company’s business is tied to birthdays.
“Pay Your Age Day” was scheduled for a Thursday, as John says that the company anticipated some increase in traffic. But, the company was not anticipating the “madness” that followed.
More than half a million people visited Build-A-Bear stores on “Pay Your Age Day,” making it the highest-measured day of store traffic in the company’s history. Shoppers posted pictures on social media showing lines stretching through hallways and crowds creating chaos withing stores.
“It was bigger than anyone could have possibly imagined,” John said Monday.
John says that the day was “quite a ride” and acknowledged that backlash from the many customers who were unable to get their hands on a bear could have created problems for Build-A-Bear. Instead, the company harnessed the power of the deal.
Before the end of the day, the company announced that Build-A-Bear Bonus Club members – both those who waited in lines and those who did not – were eligible to receive a voucher for $15 off at the store. The company also launched a new program called “Count Your Candles,” where customers can come in to build a bear during their birthday month and only pay the amount of their age.
The “Pay Your Age” sales boost and media coverage came at a crucial time for Build-A-Bear, as the company has faced challenges with plummeting mall traffic. The massive response to the “Pay Your Age Day” deal, John says, helped demonstrate people’s continued interest in the brand. This appreciation for Build-A-Bear has fed into the company’s aspirations to expand into different categories, including entertainment.
“Pay Your Age Day” “actually proved quite a point to the power of the Build-A-Bear brand,” John said.
The deal is still influencing business at Build-A-Bear. According to John, Birthday Treats Bear is now the company’s top-selling product. The stuffed bear costs $14 – or, during a shopper’s birthday month, whatever age the customer is turning.