Proving that it’s possible for a promotion to be too successful, Build-A-Bear Workshop’s “Pay Your Age Day” discount, designed to celebrate the launch of the "Count Your Candles" birthday experience, drew crowds so large the retailer had to turn away shoppers and close some stores early.
“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 reaction to our Pay Your Age Day event,” Build-A-Bear said in a statement posted on its web site. “We understand that many guests were turned away as, due to safety concerns created by the crowds, authorities in certain locations closed Build-A-Bear stores and, in other locations, we were forced to limit the line.”
The deal was simple: on July 12, customers who visited any store could pay their current age, in dollars (in the U.S. and Canada) and pounds (in the UK), for any Make-Your-Own plush animal. The offer was capped at $29, allowing adults as well as children to participate. However, designing a promotion with such wide appeal could potentially end up harming consumer perception of the brand, according to Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData Retail.
“With much higher than anticipated demand for its Pay Your Age Day promotion, Build-A-Bear has become a victim of its own success,” said Saunders in a statement. “The decision to shut stores and end the promotion early was necessary on both safety and operational grounds, but it will damage the brand.”
Disappointed customers vented on social media, but Build-A-Bear is already taking steps to address their concerns and retain their trust. The retailer distributed vouchers to customers in line and is giving Build-A-Bear Bonus Club members until July 15 to register for a voucher online.
“Yesterday’s Pay Your Age Day program generated unprecedented interest and we apologize for any disappointment experienced by our Guests,” Build-A-Bear said. “Today, we’re doing a lot of listening and a lot of responding to the concerns in order to set things right. We’re also examining what happened to better plan for future events.”
The goal of the rain checks is to help the retailer better handle the traffic at its stores over the next several weeks. Build-A-Bear “strongly encouraged” shoppers to delay their trip, and gave until Aug. 31, 2018 for customers to redeem their vouchers.