Promotion creates unbearable lines at Fresno Build-A-Bear store

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The promotion may always be remembered as a Build-A-Bear nightmare. From coast to coast, hordes of shoppers seeking a great deal stood in long lines only to leave disappointed.

Build-A-Bear was not prepared to honor a sale in which you could "pay your age" for a bear.

RELATED: Build-a-Bear halts too-popular "Pay Your Age" deal after massive lines form nationwide

Before many stores even opened, the company issued a statement saying, "Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our locations due to crowds and safety concerns."

The crowd at Fashion Fair mall made you think of Black Friday. #ABC30Insiders shared video of several families with kids, many in strollers, as they waited patiently outside of Build-A-Bear in a line which snaked around the mall and all the way outside.

Inside the store, those who showed up very early to beat the crowd got their bears, but unfortunately, the promotion didn't last very long. Katarina Jahr explained, "They cut it off inside the mall and told people that after that line that they weren't going to have anything left after that."

Jahr came all the way from Lemoore. She showed up at 9 am but was too late. She wanted bears for two-year-old Anastasia and one-year-old Coen. That would've been three bucks, but all she got were coupons for $15 off bears which can cost between $12 and $75.

Jahr said, "I think it's a little bit of a nightmare. I think they didn't kind of think about how many people would actually show up. I mean, we watched a lot of kids who know what's going on, walk out of the store crying."

Build-A-Bear created the buzz it wanted but be careful what you wish for, especially if you can't deliver.

Fresno State marketing professor Bill Rice said, "What's happening with the consumer is they're going to feel a little bit betrayed."

We asked Rice if you build anticipation, will they still come after the disappointment? He replied, "I don't think they're going to lose a need for bears, but they're going to lose trust in that organization as to their ability to create value and be faithful or complete in what they're offering."

Rice added the failed promotion was similar to a product recall.

In a statement, Build-A-Bear said, "It couldn't have predicted today's reaction."

The $15 vouchers which were handed out must be used by August 31st.
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