TAMPA (FOX 13) - If you’re not already in line for today’s special Build-A-Bear store sale, it’s probably too late. The chain had to end the promotion early after hours-long lines formed in malls across the country.
Lines in Tampa Bay area malls grew quickly this morning in response to the pay-your-age sale, which allowed customers to pay their current age for any furry friend available in the store, capping prices at $29.
Social media feeds from across the country quickly filled up with footage of lines filled with dozens and even hundreds of people, snaking through mall corridors and food courts. One Bay Area mother who showed up at the Westfield Brandon Mall says she was told the wait was eight hours long.
Now, the stores’ parent company says it is closing the lines to new customers.
“Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our locations due to crowds and safety concerns,” an “urgent alert” Facebook post explained at 11 a.m. “We understand some guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible.”
Chief Workshop Manager for Build-A-Bear at Westfield Brandon Genie Romain said about 500 bear lovers had come through the store by 1 p.m.
She estimated another 5,000 were waiting, with an average wait time of 2 hours.
Romain said customers started lining up outside the store about an hour and a half before it opened Thursday morning.
"[People] started lining up around 8 in the morning. We opened our door around 9:30 and it's been nonstop ever since. So we're trying to just get to as [many] people as we can," Romain said. "Before we run out of bears."
At the Brandon store, most customers who were not able to get a bear were given rain checks or gift certificates.