The Great ‘Build-A-Bear’ Con (& How I Fall For It Everytime)

I took the girls to Build-A-Bear yesterday. It was a treat for Emily as she’s done so well in the BBC R2 Short Story Competition and Jess has managed to keep her new glasses on for 50% of the time. Before the Easter Holidays we were in single digits so it’s a big improvement.

We haven’t been to Build-A-Bear since emerging from last year’s Chicken Pox incarceration. As expected, the girls’ excitement was at fever pitch. Thanks to some well-placed advertising (i.e. right before Paw Patrol) they knew exactly what bears they wanted before we’d even stepped into the shop.

And here’s where I fall hook, line and sinker for the gimmick EVERY CHUFFING TIME. Because you can’t you just have the bear with a heart. Oh no… not when you can have a bear with a heart AND a lovely smell and a growl. The cash machines are ringing in my head but, yet again, I’m too blinded by the happiness on my kids’ faces to say no.

And another thing, there’s something seriously crafty about allowing kids to stuff their own bears. It’s an extra special touch that knocks all other toys out of the ballpark. We’ve been to Build-A-Bear three times now and those toys are still languishing in the coveted spot right next to the kids’ pillows at night.

And as for the ‘heart ceremony’…? Well, what parent isn’t going to melt on the spot whilst watching child whispering their inner most secrets at a tiny red heart! It’s so bloody endearing. Ugh. I’m such a cliché.

So you’ve spent a fortune on the bear, the heart, the smell, the growl… what next? Ah yes. The Wardrobe. Where a tiny pair of plastic shoes cost more that the New Look ballet pumps you’re wearing. But you can’t have a Belle dress without the yellow shoes now, can you? And you definitely can’t have a Branch outfit without the tiny brown felt shorts that probably retail at a 500% mark-up.

You create the bears’ certificates (done with one hand whilst the other attempts to stop the overexcited 4yr old from running riot) and then turn with misty-eyes towards the counter. The fluffy onslaught is finally over… which is just as well because the mortgage is due in five days.

Then suddenly you’re being offered the chance to buy a £3 backpack instead of the free box at the counter! What fresh hell is this you wonder, handing over your husband’s credit card…

£75 later and my girls are the proud owners of one Belle and one Branch, complete with snazzy outfits, shoes, hearts and fireworks that shoot out of their arses (made that bit up). Still, I’m feeling strangely satisfied and the kids are buzzing. I even found myself agreeing to take them again at the end of the Summer Holidays if they’ve ‘been good’.

So budge up Elf on the Shelf & Father Christmas because there’s a new bribe in town. He’s soft and cuddly and costs a fortune…

But his wardrobe’s to die for.


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