July 12--Build-A-Bear Workshop has closed lines across the United States -- including at its Providence Place mall location -- amid overwhelming response to a "pay-your-age" promotion.
Around 10:30 a.m., Providence Place posted on its Facebook page: "Based on the unprecedented response to Build-A-Bear's Pay Your Age Day event in early opening stores, we are experiencing significantly longer than expected lines and large crowds. Local authorities are requiring us to limit the lines and crowds due to safety concerns. We understand this is disappointing, we are working to address the situation, and we will reach out to our valued Guests soon."
About an hour later, Build-A-Bear posted this "urgent alert": "Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our U.S. Build-A-Bear Workshop locations due to crowd and safety concerns. We have closed lines in our U.S. stores. We understand some of our Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible."
The company had billed the promotion as its "biggest in-store deal ever."
At about 1:30 p.m., in Providence Place mall, there were still between 200 and 300 people lined up outside the Build-A-Bear Workshop on the top floor.
Three families near the front of the line said they had all been waiting at least four hours.
"By the time we had waited an hour, we weren't going to waste the time we had already waited," said Mike Pendleton, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, who was there with two children, including 6-year-old Joseph, who said, "I'm hungry and I'm thirsty."
Jessica Berry, of Somerset, had waited the four-plus hours with seven children.
"My friends think I'm crazy," she said.
The families all said they were motivated by the significance of the discount being offered by Build-a-Bear. The customizable bears typically cost from $12 to $40.
Tina Mello, of Warwick, has been here since 8:45 in the morning with three kids, including a 10-month-old baby who was nibbling on his toes.
"These bears are special because the kids get to make them themselves," said Mello. "They get to pick out the clothes. They get to name it."
Despite the long wait, the customers waiting in Providence on Thursday morning were civil, although some grumbled about line-cutting.
-- With reports from staff writer Linda Borg
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