Build-A-Bear calls off 'pay your age' promotion after assault claims and chaotic queues

Belfast store shut after claims customer punched a member of staff

Caitlin Morrison
Thursday 12 July 2018 14:32 BST
There were concerns that riots would ensue after queues got out of control
There were concerns that riots would ensue after queues got out of control (Build-A-Bear)

Toy maker Build-A-Bear has called time on its Pay Your Age event due to safety concerns after “unprecedented” numbers of people flocked to stores around the UK.

The US firm was offering to allow children up to 14 years old to pay their age for its teddy bears, which normally retail at more than £50.

However, after huge queues formed outside stores, local authorities raised concerns over safety risks at shopping centres throughout the country.

A staff member was reportedly punched by an angry customer at the Belfast store, which the company confirmed has now been closed “in the interest of the safety of our employees and our guests”.

Fans of the brand queued for five hours Cardiff, according to local media, and police were called to the White Rose Centre in Leeds, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Twitter user Katie Leech said her “two disappointed little girls” could not get their bears the Meadowhall centre in Yorkshire, while John Brophy said Build A Bear should “think more deeply how you organise things like this in future” and accused the firm of “leaving thousands of children upset”.

A spokesperson for Build-A-Bear said: “The response to our Pay Your Age Day event at all of our UK locations has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history, and the safety of our guests and associates is our top priority.

“The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations and, per local authorities, queues are at capacity and we cannot accept additional guests due to extreme crowds and safety concerns.

"We understand our guests are disappointed, and we are working to address the situation. We will reach out directly to our valued guests as soon as possible.”


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