The New York City Build-a-Bear location is considered the flagship store of this business. The store is certainly one of the biggest out of the hundreds that exist in the world – covering a 21,000 square feet area.
The concept of Build-a-Bear is simple yet quite brilliant. Kids of all ages (from 3 to 103) get to design, create and produce their own bear or stuffed animal in the store. The store provides eight different user-friendly stations that are named according to the ‘services’ they provide.
The ‘Choose Me’ station allows visitors to pick the animals they wish to create. They can choose between flamingos, monkeys, dogs and of course, teddy bears! The list of options is endless. The ‘Hear Me’ station allows guests to make a pre-recording of a sound that will be heard from the stuffed animal, after it is inserted inside. The ‘Stuff Me’ station is also home to the ‘Heart Stuff’ concept. Store workers stuff the bears for the visitors, who need to also choose a heart made from satin and put it inside the new bear along with a special wish. This is a particularly magical step for kids of all ages!
In the ‘Stitch Me’ stage, a special bar code that traces lost bears and returns them to the nearest Build-a-Bear store, is inserted into the bear before it is stitched up. Bears are then given a full grooming in the fun bear spa at the ‘Fluff Me’ station. The bears are named and given an identity before the ‘Name Me’ computer prints out a brand new birth certificate for the new friend.
During the ‘Dress Me’ stage, kids can choose among a vast range of outfits and accessories for their creations. Finally, the ‘Take me Home’ station presents excited teddy makers with their official birth certificates, a buyer card for future purchases and a carrying case for their huggables.
The cost of creating a bear is surprisingly modest (between $10 and $25), which makes it an excellent attraction for locals and visitors alike looking for something special to do with their kids. However, the store is obviously looking to do business and sells fantastic accessories for the newly created stuffed animal, which could put prices up a bit.
For the weary travelers who have spent all their creative juices on their new bears or animals, nothing can beat a visit to Build-a-Bear’s café/restaurant, “Eat with your Bear Hands” right inside the store. Here, kids get to continue with their creativity by designing bear shaped cookies for dessert, after eating a meal of mini hot dogs, French fries and other gourmet delights.