Maxine Clark had already accrued several years of retail experience with May Department Stores and Payless Shoe Source when she decided to branch out on her own in the mid-'90s. She got the idea for Build-A-Bear Workshop when consulting children about which types of toys they were most interested in. Hearing that kids were frustrated with not being able to find the exact stuffed toys that they wanted, Clark came up with a concept wherein children could make their own teddy bears and customize them however they wished. She opened the first Build-A-Bear Workshop location in St. Louis in 1997.
Every element of the Build-A-Bear Workshop retail model was designed to delight children under the age of 12--from store design to the process of choosing, building, and outfitting the stuffed animals. The brand began rapid expansion almost immediately, and it had reached 100 locations within just five years. Beginning in 2002, the company went international, and it currently has a presence in more than 20 countries across the globe. A positive environment for both consumers and employees is one of Build-A-Bear Workshop's top company values, and it has frequently been named among the best places to work by major publications. Today, there are more than 400 stores in operation worldwide, and the brand has introduced customers to more than 125 million furry companions.
Babies & Kids Merchandise
The Build-A-Bear Workshop shopping process consists of several steps that allow kids to customize their stuffed animals. First, you can choose what type of animal to make. Teddy bears are the most popular, but they come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Many also feature prints or design elements that link them to specific movie or TV franchises. Other animals run the gamut from dogs and cats to more exotic options like monkeys, elephants, horses, bunnies, and dinosaurs. The next step in the customization process allows children to decide if they want the plush toy to play a sound when they press one of its appendages. During the stuffing phase, kids can choose between soft, medium, and firm to define how much fluff is added.
Once customers have a complete stuffed animal, they can add clothing and other accessories. Options for dressing up these toys include tops, bottoms, dresses, costumes, uniforms, and more. A single teddy bear can be endlessly customized by mixing and matching various clothes, and you can continue to outfit one of your animals for years to come.
Various adults told Maxine Clark that her concept would never catch on, but the kids she consulted knew that she had a hit on her hands. The process of creating stuffed toys ensures that no two animals are exactly alike, which can appeal to a child's sense of imagination and spark their creativity. Build-A-Bear Workshop has always offered a very wide array of clothing and accessories so that kids are able to give their teddy bears a unique personality. Even if you buy one of these stuffed pals secondhand, you can still customize it and make it your own by choosing the add-ons that appeal to you. We give Build-A-Bear Workshop 5 stars out of 5.
- Established 1997
- Customizable stuffed animals
- Sold at:
- Build-A-Bear Workshop stores and online
- Types of items:
- Teddy bears, stuffed animals, toy clothing, toy accessories