Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW) is an American retailer headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri that sells teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Customers go through an interactive process in which the stuffed animal of their choice is assembled and customized during their visit to the store, and is the largest chain that operates in this style. The company has been acclaimed for the quality of its working environment, especially as a workplace for teenagers.
The company's motto is "Where Best Friends Are Made".
Build-A-Bear Workshop was founded by Maxine Clark in 1997, with its first store in the Saint Louis Galleria. By 2007, the store had sold over 50 million bears and had over 400 stores in operation worldwide in Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand and United Kingdom.
In 2006, the company acquired The Bear Factory from Hamleys and began operating in its flagship store in London.
Build-A-Bear has also engaged in various charities, including the WWF Collecti-bear series which has given over $1 million (USD) to the World Wildlife Fund. As part of its tenth birthday celebration, the company built 11 playgrounds throughout the USA and Canada in partnership with KaBOOM! and announced that it had donated over $11 million to various child and family causes since 1994. The store also hosts an event called "Stuffed For Hugs Weekend" in May, in which guests at Build-a-Bear are given the opportunity to stuff a pre-selected animal for charity. There is a similar weekend that occurs in late October known as "The Spirit of Giving" in which guests can make stuffed ghosts. A Build-A-Bear Workshop video game was developed by The Game Factory and released for the Nintendo DS platform for Christmas 2007.
Build-A-Bear has also created several tie-in stuffed animals for various promotional events, including a toy The Cat in the Hat SpongeBob SquarePants, a toy Shrek, a toy Cody Maverick penguin from Surf's Up, a toy Mumble from Happy Feet, a toy E.B. from Hop, both Alvin and Brittany from the Alvin and the Chipmunks (movie) series, a Jonas dog and a Wizards of Waverly Place bear. Build-A-Bear workshop has also released several lines of miniature toys included in Happy Meals at McDonald's restaurants, running first in May 2006 followed by a second promotion in August 2007, a third in October 2009 and a fourth one in February 2012. These were only available in McDonald's in America.
In 2010, in honor of the Sanrio company's 50th anniversary, Build-A-Bear released limited edition Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty, Chococat, My Melody, and Keroppi. This even included the release of mini keychains of the four characters along with Deery Lou. In 2010, Build-A-Bear also started selling Zhu Zhu Pets, a line of electronic hamsters by Cepia LLC. Also in 2010 'Build-a-bear' introduced some smaller bears in boxes and already stuffed bears called smallfrys. A variety of them were made. Going from normal bears and rabbits to blue tigers and purple giraffes. Just like the normal 30-40cm bears they had clothes and accessories but not as big a variety as the larger bears.
Starting in 2011, Build-A-Bear added Victoria Justice as their new spokesperson. In the mid-year, she began appearing in all Build-A-Bear Workshop commercials. Build-A-Bear also released a feature film available on IPad through MoPix in December of 2011.
In late October 2007, Build-A-Bear Workshop opened their new online visual world, Build-A-Bearville, now Bearville developed in association with Frima Studio. It allows users to play games, explore an expanding world, and chat in a safe community. While codes are included with products bought at a Build-A-Bear Workshop and can be used to redeem in-game gifts, anyone, including non-owners of the brand's toys, can create an account and play the majority of the Bearville game.
"Make Your Own Mascot" stores are trade at Progressive Field (Cleveland), Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati), AT&T Park (San Francisco), Nationals Park (Washington), and Busch Stadium (St. Louis) featuring the home team's respective mascots, as well ones for Boston Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace store and Mr. Met, the mascot of the New York Mets, at their Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan, New York City. A location at Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia) closed at the end of the 2010 season..
Friends 2B Made was an interactive store that allowed customers to make dolls and purchase related accessories launched by Build-A-Bear in 2005. The store was open briefly in nine locations before closing in 2009.
Build-A-Dino allows customers to create a stuffed dinosaur and purchase related accessories. The first location was located inside the T-Rex Cafe in Kansas City, in partnership with Landry's Restaurants. The first stand-alone store was a temporary holiday location at Chesterfield Mall in Chesterfield, Missouri, which closed after the 2006 holidays to relocate to the St. Louis Science Center. There is also a Build-A-Dino inside a second T-Rex Cafe at Downtown Disney Walt Disney World, and located within the New York City and Myrtle Beach Build-A-Bear Workshop flagship stores.
"Build-A-Bear at the Zoo" can be found at the Saint Louis Zoological Park. This store features several types of zoo animals, many of which are endangered and some which are part of the WWF Collectibear series. For each collectibear purchased one dollar is donated to the WWF.
In 1999, Eric and Merrilee Woods, the owners of Basic Brown Bear Factory of San Francisco, sued Build-A-Bear for misappropriating trade secrets, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and breach of confidence. It was settled out of court.
According to legal filings, Maxine Clark approached Basic Brown Bear Factory in 1996 to negotiate a buyout offer. Eric and Merrilee Woods were interested in selling the business to Clark to expand it nationally, with the agreement that the Woodses would remain as officers. The Woodses assert that Clark was exposed to the inner workings of the business and signed a confidentiality agreement. She then made an offer that the Woodses rejected, resulting in Clark quickly departing to organize Build-A-Bear Workshop with their trade secrets.
Maxine Clark has stated "We have never claimed that we were the first to have make-your-own stuffed animal businesses in the United States". Regardless, Maxine Clark appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in February 2004, claiming to have invented the Build-A-Bear Workshop with the help of a ten year-old- girl named Katie who thought that Beanie Babies were so hard to find but "were so easy that they could make them."
Though Build-A-Bear Workshop has since applied for or acquired many patents, copyrights, and trademarks related to the business of "create-your-own-animal", controversy, contention, and litigation over the intellectual property abound.
- ^ Sorkin, Michael D. "Overland, Mo.-Based Build-A-Bear Recalls Products because of Choking Hazard." St. Louis Post-Dispatch. January 17, 2003. Retrieved on August 19, 2009.
- ^ "Seventeen Special - 10 Best Companies: Apply for jobs at these great companies!".
- ^ Build-A-Bear Workshop Donates $1 Million for World Wildlife Fund, 7 March 2006
- ^ Build-A-Bear Workshop(R) Featured in McDonald's(R) Happy Meal(R) and Mighty Kids Meals; Summer of Happy Meal Fun Series Includes First-Ever Plush Collection with Removable Clothing, 10 May 2006
- ^ Hello Kitty and Sanrio Friends Celebrate Sanrio’s 50th Anniversary at Build-A-Bear Workshop
- ^ Build-A-Bear Workshop
- ^ Jones, Juston (2008-08-29). "Building a Young Audience at Ballparks". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-08. "Maxine Clark, the chairwoman and chief executive of the company, said Build-a-Bear Workshop has opened five stores so far in Major League Baseball stadiums"
- ^ www.friends2bmade.com
- ^ Shop at the Zoo - Saint Louis Zoo
- ^ Grose, Thomas K. (2002-11-03), "Teddy bear tussle - The fur is flying in the legal wars over who owns the rights to sell make-your-own toys", U.S. News & Financial Report, retrieved 2009-09-24