US Build-A-Bear stores recently put on a Pay Your Age event, promising customers they could pay their age for just about any stuffed animal in the store. That meant if your kid is three, she could have snagged a furry friend for three bucks. What could go wrong, right? It’s only every child’s dream to bring home their very own snuggle buddy from the famed toy chain. (As a parent of a five year old, I’ve at times wondered if I should find an alternate route at the mall when I’m in a hurry so that my child won’t stop in front of the store and beg, “Pleeeeeeeease, Mum, can we go in?”)
The day was an epic disaster. There were Hunger Games-like mobs. Eight-hour lines (at my store, at least). And toddler meltdowns. So many meltdowns. Mid-event, the company had to shut the whole thing down, eventually offering printable vouchers instead.
In Australia Build-A-Bear is even less accessible, with fewer stores and higher prices. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to give your kid a Build-A-Bear-inspired experience at home, for cheap. With no lines. Here’s how.
Buy a No-Sew Stuffed Animal Skin
The brand new bear skins above start at $US7.50 ($10) on eBay. (There are life-sized options, too, because YOLO.) You can also buy unstuffed teddy bears and other friends on Amazon and through specialty retailers, like The Zoo Factory. These ones are $US7 ($9).
Here’s the fun part. Let your budding taxidermist stuff their new pal with polyester fibre or another type of fill. For a special touch, add a heart (you can cut one out from a piece of red felt) and tell them to make a wish!
This is where the costs can start to add up (though the Build-A-Bear promo didn’t include accessories, anyway). Let your kid play dress up with their furry friend with add-ons like shoes, bows, police helmets, karate belts and roller skates.
Create an Adoption Certificate
Make the adoption official with a personalised certificate, which you can create yourself or find templates for on Pinterest.