Many customers at Build-a-Bear Workshops across the world felt anything but warm and fuzzy Thursday as they waited in hours-long lines for the company's "Pay Your Age Day," which promised to knock the price of its customizable stuffed animals down to the age of the children decorating them.
Some families left with new plush pals that cost as little as a dollar. Many more, including Florence mother Dawn Lovelace, were overwhelmed by the chaos and the size of the the expectant crowds.
"(I saw) grown adults yelling at young kids because they were like, ‘You can't cut the line!'" Lovelace, who left empty-handed with her four children, said. "I am like, ‘It's a stuffed animal, for goodness sake.'"
Alysha Lewis and her three children snagged the toys they lined up to buy at Kenwood Mall, saving around $75 in the process, but had to wade through an equally hectic crowd to do so. The crush was so intense, she said, that they bought the animals without stuffing them and fled.
"It was a mad-house," she said. "It was loud; there were kids everywhere; they were running. Crazy. I have never seen anything like it."
Scenes like the ones they witnessed replicatedthemselves at Build-A-Bear Workshops in hundreds of malls on multiple continents, forcing the chain to ultimately cancel the event.
"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," the company wrote in a statement.
The statement cited "long lines, extensive waits and disappointed guests" as unforeseen consequences of the fervently advertised promotion. According to the company, customers who were still in line when the event shut down received discount vouchers that could be applied to a future purchase.
Customizable stuffed animals at Build-A-Bear typically cost between $20-$30, although the largest can hit $75.