Thousands of parents and children waited in vain outside Build-A-Bear stores for a chance to buy a furry friend in the company's highly anticipated "Pay Your Age" promotion.
The sale, the first of its kind by the hugely popular chain of teddy bear sellers, was shut down Thursday after huge queues, pushing and shoving and line jumping created chaos in stores across the country.
Every bear-building workshop in the U.S. and Canada was forced to abandon its offer for any person to pay their age for any stuffed animal.
By the afternoon, with restless children and impatient parents having waited in line since 6 a.m., the company announced it was forced to discontinue the sale in the interests of public safety.
**Urgent Alert:— Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear) July 12, 2018
Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our locations due to crowd safety concerns. We have closed lines in our stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible. https://t.co/aSFfPCcfsG pic.twitter.com/WZJ53tOAEH
In New York City's Herald Square, a frustrated mother confronted a store employee about people cutting in line. "We need somebody!" Nicole Castro pleaded. "There's people who have been out here for seven hours with their babies."
A child who had waited for hours piped up, "It was not worth it!" NBC News reported.
Response to the firm's offer "has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history," Build-A-Bear officials said in a statement.
It was not clear whether future discounts would be available. Stores in Britain were also besieged, with several closing because of huge crowds.
The popular, build-your-own bears retail from $10 to $75.
Frustrated customers also took to social media. Some used humor to express their impatience.
NASA now reporting they can see the queues outside Build A Bear Workshops from space.— Big Mouth Princess (@BigMouthPrincss) July 12, 2018
Others didn't think it was funny at all.
Thanks @buildabear for ruining my 8 and 2 year olds’ day by closing your pay your age event before our mall even opens! #howdoifixmykidsbrokenhearts #buildabear #whypromoteitifyoucantkeepupwithdemand #sadday #thanks— Jasmin Butler (@sassymomHQ) July 12, 2018
And the lines were nothing short of intimidating.
No, really. This is the line at Mall of America, where Build-A-Bear-Workshop is promoting their "Pay Your Age Day" deal, which was so popular they eventually had to cut off the line. | https://t.co/kJ9Mhu6u2h pic.twitter.com/1PPDrKUbir— WCCO - CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) July 12, 2018