* Prices may differ from that shown
On the first look at build a bear its very inviting and especially for the children, every time we go to the shopping centre the children want to go into build a bear however I know as soon as we step through those doors we are not leaving without another bear to add to there collection!
The shops themselves are generally quite large or the ones that I have been in are anyway, the only issues I have is it can get very expensive especially if you have more than one child, you can get a standard bear for around £8 which isnt that bad however they advertise all of the clothing and the accessories everywhere! and of course the kiddies want some clothes too for there bears and you dont escape without them.. a full outfit you can be looking at anything from £12 - £20! per bear!
Lovely variety of bears and clothes, and the staff always seem friendly and wanting to help you, they are great with the children and are willing to answer any questions you might have, the parties are also a very good feature.
The bears are expensive and so are the clothing, its not bad if you take your children out for a big treat
What child doesn't love teddy bears?
Since our lg went on her first trip away from home at 4 months old (to nottingham) we have been purchasing a build a bear from each place, our first experience was at the Nottingham branch where we discovered the truly magical experience of build a bear workshop!
We entered a tidy, rather quiet store where a friendly and enthusiastic member of staff welcomed us in, explained the process and left us to pick a bear and join her
For those who are reading this who have no idea what build a bear is about let me explain
You make a bear by choosing a bear you'd like (all are clearly priced for those on a budget) the head is already stuffed so it doesn't look freaky or anything but the rest of its body is empty,
Once you have chosen a teddy from the several dozen options (including new smaller teddy bears I have recently been informed which are a cheaper alternative) you make your way over to the large stuffing machine in the corner- it is bright yellow, there is a bit where you can see the stuffing being churned round and round and there is a big red pedal on the floor next to the member of staff
Depending on the age if the child they will ask them if they have chosen a name for their teddy and if they would like to use the pedal to stuff it themselves (on our third visit away at 9months our lg did the pedal for the first time) the staff will ask you if you want more stuffing in etc
At this point you can add a sound, add a smell and even put inside dummies etc to be taken away! They also include a tag which (once you register your bear free if charge in store) links that bear to you, so if it ever gets lost, it's able to be returned. (I love this feature)
Even if you don't want to pay and add any of the above extras (we never have) they still offer a soft red or pink heart which your child kisses and pushes into the stuffing and then the staff sew up your bear whilst continuing to talk to the child
Next is the grooming station- if you want you can use the air and brushes to groom your bear at the grooming station, then move onto choosing an outfit and various other accessories such as bags, skates, glasses, hats etc (they vary from a couple of pound to approx £15) and there are literally hundreds of choices so be prepared for a long wait whist your child chops and changes their mind on their choice! You can now purchase wardrobes, passports etc
Finally you make your way to the computer to get a birth certificate for your bear- you include a name, address etc and who it belongs to before making your way to the till to pay
The whole experience is great and lasts approx 40 minutes, however this goes REALLY quickly and the whole time you feel like your child is the most important person
The experience has been the same at each store so the staff are clearly trained well
The only negative I can think of is that some of the stores are quite narrow (not being overly good for a pushchair when busy) which can be a hassle if busy, it's not been a problem before until we went to our local one in Norwich after Xmas to spend A voucher (it was packed-hopefully just because if had been Xmas!)
FIRST LOOK - The first thing you notice about Build A Bear of course is the bright blue and yellow logos and of course the mass of teddy bears and of course don't forget the clothes!
The shops look very tidy and very child friendly they are usually spacious and have a nice range of bears to choose from!
PROS - The main pro of course is the kids love them, they enjoy choosing their very own bear and being able to stuff it and of course there then able to choose the clothes and accessories too. The staff always seems friendly and are able to help with anything and it's not just the kids that love it I have to say I enjoy it there aswel!
CONS - The only con I would have to say is the fact it's very expensive there is some cheaper bears but even they start at £9 and then of course most children will want an outfit which start at around £10 and if they want shoes or accessories that's even more so you can be looking at around £40 sometimes for one bear!
SUMMARY - I do like this store very much, and I love the fact there is a very large range of bears. One thing I like as well is the clothes they do they do various outfits including characters like toy story, care bears etc. they always have some themed bears at the moment they are doing a Smurf theme which is fantastic. There is one tip I would say though stay away from any of the pony's that are on all fours as they advertise them with roller skates which then means you have to buy two packs of shoes and two packs of roller-skates as they don't do four packs which is an instant £20 spent!
WHERE TO BUY / PRICE - The one and only build a bear workshop or of course online (but where is the fun in that) the bears start at £9 and go up to around £18
My relationship with build a bear started about 4 years ago when I received my first present from build a bear. This was bought by an ex here are my thoughts.
You go into the shop and pick and bear and then have it stuffed there in house. There are a number of designs to choose from you can add extras such as a beating heart or a song that can be played when the bear is squeezed. There is also a large abundance of outfits and other bits and pieces to choose from too.
These are bright yellow, red and blue stores that have the build a bear logo everywhere. The floor is always wooden and tiled, so there is a lot of running around my the children, and bears are lined up along one of the walls and the stuffing machine on the other side. The outfits and various other accesories are located towards the back of the store.
One of the main issues with the store is just that there are not enough members of staff. Due to the bears being made in house and the number of children that require help, sometimes the queue at the til can be fairly long. I have also discovered that the staff can be quite snappy when there is an awful lot to deal with. This is not great for, what is primarily a children's environment.
There is an online store but as this brand all us about experience this is mainly used for outfits and accessories. A lot of things can be found on here that are not instore.
These bears are of great quality and can will last anyone a very longtime. I did have an issue with my most recent purchase (a hello kitty style that I bought just over a year ago) so I took it into the Manchester Arndale centre branch and it was quickly sorted for me that was a number of months ago now and the bear is perfectly fine since her repair.
There is a huge range if bears and there is quite often limited edition, I have a lovely winter additon one that it still in one of the lovely house themed boxes. There is also a range of stuffing that a bear can have from soft to extra firm.
These are fairly expensive the bears range anything from £9 to £30 and the accessories from about £2 - £15 but due to the quality and the fact that you can pick everything you want these are really well priced.
This is a great store that is perfect for both adults and children and can be enjoyed by all. This is somewhere I will continue to shop, but unfortunately they lose a star as the staff situation could do with being looked at.
Every time my partner and I visit Nottingham we keep promising each other that we will buy a build a bear for each other. For the past five years we have visited Nottingham christmas shopping and 2011 was the year we had saved enough money to go into the mystical store and treat each other.
Build a Bear workshop was founded in 1994 and is an American retailer selling teddy bears and other animals that are made and personalised before your very eyes. Build a Bear is now a worldwide franchise having sold over 50 million bears by 2004 and extended lines to suit upcoming films and events such as Children in Need, Happy Feet and Hello Kitty.
As soon as you walk in the store it feels like you have been transported to a magical world where everything is bigger than you, this store looks like the insides of a wendy house. To the left as you walk in there are a variety of 'skins' which are the characters to choose from in a flat state. When we went we could choose from a variety of bears, reindeers, Happy Feet characters, dogs and monkeys. I chose a monkey and my partner chose Eric the penguin from Happy Feet. At the time there was an offer of buy one full size animal and get another half price, Eric was £14 and the monkey £11 making the cost without extras £19.50 as the cheapest one is half price.
The next cart is the voice choosing area, they were £1 for the basic baby laughing or pre recorded voices. I chose a laughing voice for the monkey as I felt this added to the cheeky nature. My partner chose to record her own message which was £2.99. There was also a choice of a beating heart but we decided against this (it is creepy enough when the voices go off for no reason!)
The next station is the stuffing area, now as we are adults I think that explained why the service was a little poor; I did wonder if the staff were more enthusiastic with children. I was asked to choose a heart from a tub, I chose a red and white checked one and my partner chose a plain red one. At this point we were asked to kiss the heart, make a wish and it would be put into the animal. I was aksed how hard I would like the animal, I opted for medium so it had just the right amount of cuddle and for the voice box to be put in the arm. The animal is then stuffed from a big machine and stiched up by pulling and tying, and there you have the basic bear.
Now comes the hard sell, before you reach the computers where the animal is registered and 'adopted' you have to walk through the clothing sections. Now as this was a gift I opted for a necklace for the monkey at a cost of £3. I can imagine if you have children this would be the point where a vast amount of money could be spent on bed and pretty outfits. Since 2011 we have been back to the store and bought shoes, pants, socks, t shirts and trousers all of which vary from £3 to about £8 for a set.
The next station is the computers where you input the animals code and it takes you through the registering process as if adopting the animal. I chose to name the monkey chuckles as he is a cheeky monkey with a laugh so this was printed on a birth certificate with the date and name of the 'parent'.
Finally comes the pay point and the cost was around £30 for the two bears plus accessories which is good but we did go at a time when there was an offer on. We also recieved a free £10 gift card as we had spent over the threshhold to qualify.
All in all the bears are of good quality, chuckles lives on the bed and has only flattened a little in over a year. However, Eric is more of a display penguin as he had a hidden battery pack for a light up bow tie which I did not even realise he had! It would be an ideal place to take the kids!
We arrived armed with my daughters preloaded gift card (if £30 was paid onto card before Christmas Eve then this would give £35 of credit) To anyone who hasn't visited a Build a Bear store....what are you waiting for? Its so easy to get lost in a shop full of fabulous animals and super cute outfits, the hardest part is stopping yourself from kitting out your bear with a more appealing wardrobe than your own!
Allow yourself lots of time for your visit, we were in store for not much short of an hour. First decision, which animal? These start at £9 if my memory serves me right for a teddy up to around £18 for a newly arrived in store light up white teddy. In between there are huskies, monkeys, dogs, hello kitty's, rabbits, need I go on? There are also options suitable for girls and/or boys. You can choose to put in a "beating heart" and/or a recorded message. My daughter choose to make her own recording of a tune from her favourite singer. These cost £4.50 each.
Animal duly picked, you go to the stuffing station where you help to fluff up your new animal and kiss and make a wish on a fabric heart which is stitched inside your animal. You can then brush up/fluff up your animals coat. Now comes the expensive bit, you soon become lost in the fantastic collection of clothes, shoes and even underwear for your new animal. It's too easy to get obssesive about your friends wardrobe, the choice includes Disney themed outfits, sparkly clothes and even a karate suit. I mean a bunny needs at least one outfit with black sparkly high heels (yes you read right) and pj's for bedtime. If you have any money left there are various other accessories available like a chair bed for £16 and a car for £24 not to mention bags, sunglasses wigs or roller skates, the list goes on.
Finally you enter your barcode of your animal and your details and are provided with a Birth Certificate. Your animal is then packaged in a cardboard carrier for you to take home and love. Mark, who served us made the whole experience more special by his enthusiasm.
I had never heard of Build a Bear and they opened one in our city centre it was like a godsend for my upcoming daughters birthday. I went in with mother in law to purchase a monkey teddy and even though we were childless they didn't let us miss out on the experience. I still had to choose the bear and use the foot pedal to slowly stuff it (after I had kissed the heart that is hidden inside). I then did the little dance required before completing the 'birth' of the teddy and going off to purchase the items to dress the thing.
Although it is quite overpriced it's all about the experience and kids love it. Plus its something they can keep forever and on birthdays and christmas when you are running short on ideas you can either buy vouchers or a new outfit for their little friend. Along with the outfits (which are almost as expensive as normal clothes) we use some of my daughters outgrown baby clothes as a much cheaper option. All in all a fun experience and lifelong friend for children (or adults). Also if you sign up to the emails you often get special offers sent to you.
There are many 'Build a bear workshops' around areas all over the world. (and you can find yours closest by a list on the 'Build a bear' website) Build a bear workshop is a brightly coloured friendly store, where you can choose a stuffed animal, (from Bears, panda and monkeys to even hello kitty!) customise it and watch it being stuffed and even buy it clothes and shoes! I shall take you through the process i had making my Build a bear:
There were many different Stuffed toys to choose from and there was a big difference in price, the cheapest being £9 for a plainer coloured (but still adorable) teddy bear, the inbetween prices which were £13.50 to £15 for other such animals like Pandas, owls, dogs etc to the more expensive end of the scale which were £18 for (i think) a kind of husky dog or wolf (not sure!) and the most expensive a Hello Kitty for £20! Each toy had a hole in its back and a long thread to stitch it up with.
I chose a Panda for £13.50.
After choosing your toy, you take it to a stuffing area.
If you like you can add a voice box into it. (there are different things it can have such as "i love you" to roars, meows, barks and even songs to a personalised message or a beating heart)
you will see a large kind of colourful machine with a large wheel spinning loads of stuffing. you have an assitant (usually ready to help without asking) and you are asked to step on a peddle, which turns the stuffing machine on as they insert the back on the bear onto a large pipe which the stuffing comes out of.
When they are done, they ask if the bear is right for you, (soft enough, if you want it more firmer etc.) and then you choose a little heart out of a tub (where i went was either red hearts with white writing saying 'I love you' or a green flower/clover) they tell you to kiss the heart and make a wish (really sweet!) and they tuck it into the bears stuffing before sewing it up. (this should only take about a couple of minutes!)
Your bear is ready! There is then a rnage of clothes you can pick from to dress your bear in. (they even do wardrobes, beds and shoe storages for around £25-8 each) There are many styles to pick from, even seasonal clothing! There are shorts, trousers, tops, skirts and dresses (summer wear, wedding, party, casual etc.) and fancy dress. (snow white and other various fairy tales) You can even purchase night ware, Knickers, socks and swim wear!
You can but shoes which go with various outfits, (sparkly shoes, trainers, slipper, roller skates etc) and accesories. ('ear' bows, items they can hold like microphones, sun glasses, bags etc.)
The list could go on, there are so many items to name!
Prices for clothes can be about £6-10 a dress or nice outfit like a cheerleader of fancy dress, about £6-9 for a casual outfit, £5-6 for some shoes and accesories are anywear between £1.50-6.
After you select your bears outfit, you go over to the little computer wear it will ask you some questions, (name, adress etc.) then fill in information about your bear. (its name, date of birth etc)
The computer tell you your done, you go over to the serving desk with your bear and they put it into a nice little box. (a bit like a little house with very pretty drawings) You get a 'Birth certificate' with the information you filled out on the computer. You pay for your bear and its done!
Now you can buy 'Smallfrys' which are tiny 'Build a bears' (already made) for £8 with a choice of small clothing which are £10 an outfit.
Build a bear is great for kids and i think even adults will enojoy it!
My only downside is the price. The outcome can be quite pricey but the experience is great and you get a great bear!
Expect to see a price of around £30 for a clothed bear depending on the bear you choose and the amount of clothes, and you may want to go back for a new outfit for you friend!
Build a bear also do parties, but there is more info about it on the website,
Although we've been super organised with buying Christmas presents this year, we had one present left to get, a super special Teddy Bear for seven month old Freddy. All his brothers and sisters already have one of these special bears each, bears that Mum lovingly chose, stuffed and dressed for them, so it's only right that Freddy should have one too. So what am I talking about? A bear from build-a-bear of course, a delightful shop where you can pick, stuff and completely personalise a new friend from a range of soft toys.
==The Shop Itself==
Although there are over 50 Build-a-Bear workshops dotted around the country (check out their website for your nearest), I've only had experience of the Colchester branch, which is the nearest to me. The store itself is fairly small and can get very crowded, especially at the weekend and during school holidays, so unless you're planning on taking a school age child to build their bear then I would definitely recommend visiting during school hours. As the shop is quite small it does seem a little cluttered and if there's more than a couple of shoppers then it becomes quite difficult to navigate a buggy with a few bottlenecks as shoppers choose their bears and accessories.
The staff are all friendly, perhaps overly so, I prefer not to be hassled as I make my purchases and easily recognisable with their bright yellow tops. Although I've never taken any of my children in here to make their own bears (with them always having been presents), from what I've seen the staff engage well with children and no matter what age you are they do their best to totally immerse you in the buying experience.
==Making Friends is Easy==
Although you can buy the bears and other soft toys already stuffed and dressed, doing so means you'll really miss out on what makes Build-A-Bear such a special experience. The first stage in building your bear to choose which furry friend you want to become your (or your child's) best friend. Although the range can vary from store to store and season to season, I find there's usually a good selection to choose from, including teddy bears, dogs, and even monkeys. There are even a couple of asthma friendly toys available. There's a sample of each of the furry friends displayed on a shelf and when you've made your choice it's simply a case of picking one up out of the 'bins'. On our latest trip we decided on a 46cm monkey for our little monkey costing a very reasonable £15. Prices range from £9 for the smallest basic bear, up to £70 for a pair of dressed reindeer.
But what's this, the bears aren't exactly cuddly, in fact at this stage only their heads are stuffed and their bodies are empty, waiting to be lovingly filled. But before filling the bear there's the chance to add a sound box for a small extra cost. There are quite a few different sounds available including, "I love you", a lullaby or even a beating heart, but we went for the monkey sound for an extra £2.50, which surprisingly sounds like a monkey. My other children have bears that say 'I love you' and these are still going strong with occasional use after three years.
The next stage of creating our extra special present was stuffing the monkey and as always I was a little disappointed that I wasn't allowed to actually stuff the toy. What happens at this stage is that after placing the sound box in one of the monkey's arm, a member of staff attaches the furry friend to a pipe that's attached to a large machine with lots of fluff floating around in it. You're then asked to press down on a pedal with your foot, which turns the 'stuffer' on. This can be quite a noisy process and may frighten some younger children. As your furry friend is being stuffed you'll be asked if you want it soft and cuddly or more firm, personally I think they're much nicer soft and cuddly, especially for younger children.
Then before closing the bear up you're asked to add a heart, there's a choice of two different hearts available, red or checked, not that I really see the difference as these aren't actually seen. Both Mummy and Daddy gave the heart a kiss before the assistant placed it inside the monkey along with a barcode that allows your furry friend to be traced to you if he ever gets lost. Finally the back of the furry friend is tied up, by tightening some strings that looks rather like shoelaces and you're ready to go to the next stage.
I can't say I've ever bothered with the next stage, but it is possible to give your new friend a wash and brush up, not that actual water is involved. Basically it's a table with showers that actually blow air to fluff the fur up and the brushes to smooth it back down. For adults it's pretty pointless but I'm sure that a child would love it.
==Dressing up is fun==
Once your furry friend is stuffed and fluffed it's time to get to the all important dressing stage. This is where Build-A-Bear must really rake in the money. There are a huge number of different outfits and accessories available to buy for any occasions. While each of these pieces is in itself quite cheap they do soon add up to a sizable cost. There are outfits for girl bears and boy bears, active bears and sleepy bears, cool bears and geeky bears. Really there are far too many outfits and accessories for me to even try and list, but I can tell you about some that I've bought. One of older sons has batman and Spiderman outfits for his bear, these cost me £10 each at the time, the batman outfit now costs £12, but it does include a nicely padded body suit, mask, cape and gloves (the Spiderman outfit no longer seems available). Another has a football kit, of which there is a reasonable range, but Spurs isn't available, which I found annoying as my son supports Spurs and wouldn't have been happy with any other team, so he had to make do with blue and white. The girl's bears have princess outfits, which are very pretty and girly (£10) and shorts and T-shirt sets that I bought during the sale.
Really though there is something for almost everyone and this is what makes these bears suitable for all your loved ones, adult or child. Is your significant other a Star Wars freak, well there's a range of Star Wars costumes just for them. Into fishing, then there's a fishing outfit, karate then there's the karate suit and so on. I must say though that I do think the range is a little too extensive, I really don't see the point of a pair of boxers for a bear. Although the wedding dress and tuxedo would make wonderfully unusual wedding presents when matched with boy and girl teddy bears.
Along with actual outfits, there is a vast range of accessories available including sunglasses, shoes, handbags, hats, wigs and even a wheelchair. These accessories range in price from a couple of pounds up to over twenty and I would say that many of them are actually marketed more to the adult collector than a child. What child would really think of putting a wig on a teddy bear. Although all these extras can soon add up, what I like is that once the furry friend has been bought, then outfits and accessories make great stocking fillers and small gifts. So if anyone is stuck on what to buy, I can send them in here. The relatively low price of each of the items also means they fall within pocket money range, meaning children can easily save for them themselves.
==A Friend Is Born==
After choosing your furry friend's outfit, there's one final step to go through before paying for him. And that's creating his (or her) birth certificate. This is a very simple process for an adult and due to the simplified keyboard it's a child will only need minimal help. To start you need to scan the furry friend's barcode, which allows the computer to recognise which particular soft toy you've chosen. There are a few details that need to be inputted, including the furry friend's name, the name, address and email address of it's new owner and who stuffed it. There is a point in this process where an adult needs to give permission for the personal information to be given, but I didn't see anyway of verifying this permission has been given.
==The Cost Of Friendship==
After entering the details for the birth certificate it's time to actually pay for your new friend and his accessories. As I said before this shop can get busy, especially out of school hours, so there is occasionally a wait. After scanning through the furry friend, the cashier places him in a cardboard box that looks a little like a house, is easy to carry and makes a lovely place to keep your furry friend safe. On the day we bought the monkey this box was also placed in a large paper bag, but it was absolutely pouring with rain, which meant this paper bag was less than useless. Although I paid by cash, various credit and debit cards were also taken, although I believe American Express was not.
The lovely lady behind the till encouraged me to join their 'club card' scheme, which rather than rewarding amount spent, rewards the number of visits made. To be honest, I can't see myself remembering to use this very often. I was also given a £5 voucher off anything in the shop to be used on my next visit. This was a nice touch and will allow me to buy a nice little Christmas outfit for the monkey for a reasonable £5 when I'm next in the area.
==A Friend For Life?==
Although we've only just bought Freddy's monkey (he's called Chuckles by the way), my older (now teenage) children have had their various bears for several years now. All of the bears are well made and have been well loved without showing any sign of falling apart. They do look a little grubby, but that's only to be expected. The batteries in the sound boxes are all still going strong and the outfits are still in good condition even after going through the washing machine.
As I've already hinted at, these bears are not only suitable for children, I actually have a very special princess bear that was bought for me one Mother's Day, which I adore. The vast range of outfits and accessories available means that these bears are equally suitable for children, teenagers and adults, as they can be made as quirky as you like. By adding the appropriate outfit you really can give an usual gift, there's even a graduation outfit.
==Parties And More==
Build-A-Bear also run birthday parties starting from £9 a head, which includes a basic bear. You can increase the amount per head to allow the partygoers to choose more expensive bears or add accessories. I've never actually been to one of these parties but have been in the shop while they're being held. I'm not sure I like the idea of a children's party being held in a shop that's still open to the public either.
There is also a build-a-bearville website, which is an online community for children aged 6-14. Again I'm not really sure about this idea, even though they do state it's a safe and fun place to play, I don't like the idea of children accessing chat rooms of any type.
I love the whole experience of Building-A-Bear and think that the final product makes an extra special gift. There is a reasonably large range of soft toys to choose from with prices starting at under £10, which is actually not that high a price for a standard bear. But then adding into this the love you can put into stuffing the animal along with choosing outfits and accessories makes for a completely unique gift. Yes it can become expensive if you buy all the accessories at once, but I like the way that I can spread that cost by buying just one item (often for less than £5) at a time. And so I'm giving Build-A-Bear a healthy 4 stars out of 5, and would recommend you give it a try at least once if looking for a slightly different gift for any occasion.
Build a bear shops are lovely, bright, fun looking places, a kids dream. The shops are very cleverly designed with the shop layout directing you and your child around the various stations, from choosing your bear, to stuffing and brushing it. To dressing and accessorising your bear. (every happy bear need accessories)
The bears start at a reasonable cost with a basic bear being under a tenner. (This is the start of your new mortgage application. )
we all get swept up in the build a bear process wanting a happy bear, so imagine what it must be like for the children. "I need a beeting heart" "I have to have a voice box so my teddy can tell me he loves me every single day" start to sweat Dad's its going to be expensive.
You make it through that onto the free wash and dry station, phew we like this bit. Parents worldwide start to smile, but don't count your chickens too soon, the best is yet to come.
You can't possibly have a NAKED bear.
T-shirts, shorts, dresses, hats, knickers, crop tops, shawls, coats, shoes, skates. WHAT !!!!! these bears have a better wardrobe than I do. (talking of wardrobes you can have one of those as well)
You then go onto accessories a brush, a bed, a wardrobe, a carry case, but "your teddy will be happy" your bank manager may not be but teddies already smiling.
By this point you are ready to run for the hills, clutching tightly to you credit card. Relax its time to give it a birth certificate, (free)
You finally get to the check out to realise that one bear doesn't come cheap, you reluctantly pay regretting come through the rainbow coloured doors on the way to bankcruptcy.
You leave with your bear and its wardbrobe and its bed and its carrier bag of accessories and on way to your car you realise you need a truck to get it all home. Look on the bright side take the bear home and leave the kids.
All in all its a money making shop that does what it does very well indeed, you can't take your children in and then say no to everything that bear needs, but you do need to think carefully before stepping into every child's dream, dreams do come true but they are not free.
I took my three children to Build a Bear at the Merry Hill Center as a treat at Easter 2010 instead of giving them chocolate eggs.
We had a fantastic experience from the moment we arrived.
You need to choose your bear and these range from around about £8 upto around £18. There are many different types of bears as well as other animals which include foxes, owls, kittens, dogs plus also some limited edition ones such as special easter bunnies.
You take your bear over to the assistant to get it stuffed. This is included in the basic cost of your bear. It also includes putting a little heart inside your animal. You can upgrade your heart at an extra cost for such as a flashing heart, a beating heart etc. The assistant then asks you to name your animal as it is stuffed and asks you to give it a cuddle to ensure it is stuffed enough for you. These are all such nice personal touches that the children enjoy.
The next stage is to dress your bear and there is literally a huge variety of clothes, accessories, shoes, hats etc to choose from. It is at this point that you can really spend a fortune so if you are on a budget then its best to make it clear!
The next stage is to get your bear purchased and put in its own little cardboard box house. The assistants will often entice you with offers of half price vouchers, which do make good birthday and christmas presents.
I have to admit the quality of the bears and clothing etc is all very good and have lasted a long time.
They also do birthday parties, although they can be quite expensive!
A wonderful treat for your child to create their own cuddly toy!
Information is available on the build a bear website!
My two girls 10 & 7 have wanted a build a bear for some time. What on earth is one of them I hear some asking!
It's a bear which you build up yourself in the shop! - explanation;
The girls had some money left from Birthday and Christmas and so that's what they chose to spend it on, we decided to go on the 2nd week of the Easter holidays as we were away on holiday the first and oh the anticipation. That's all they could talk about on holiday - what type of bear and what voice they were going to have! my 10 year old had looked it all up online and sussed out exactly what she wanted!
So we left to go to the shop - having never been before I had no idea what to expect! We walked in and I could see the variety of bears on the one side to choose from, it was very clearly set out and the prices worked up from the left to the right which was handy so I was able to say it's from here to here you can choose with the money you've got. They start from £11 and go up to about £20 I think it was. The £11 bear was extremely reasonable and I actually quite liked it a proper old fashioned bear. There were other animals as well such as dogs, rabbits and dinosaurs! At this point you are just picked up an unstuffed flat bear/animal!
My eldest after all her research knew exactly which one she wanted and went straight for it, my 7 year old spent what was eon's deciding which bear to have! in the end she went for a soft dark brown bear.
They then can choose a voice this is extra and starts from £2.99, it can laugh or say 'I love you' and a few others. They all sounded a bit too much to me and then I notice heart beats! they are £4 but quite cute so you push the heart and it actually thumps like a real heart! a bit freeky to some!
The girls both decided to have a heart beat and no voice much to my delight! The staff are all really helpful and very good with the children. Once we'd got the bear and heart you go to a member of staff and they take you to the stuffing machine and the child is encouraged to push the pedal to stuff the toy whilst the member of staff is making sure the toy is stuffed in all the right places, they ask if the child would like it stuffed hard or soft and asked to check if it's ok. Then the child is asked to make a wish on a silk heart and that plus the heart beat and voice if you have one are all pushed inside the bear. The member of staff then seals up the bear and gives it to the child.
My girls were so pleased as punch with them. There is an area where the child can groom the bear! brush it etc.
Then comes the hard bit choosing an outfit if you wish!! wow!! the amount of accessories and clothes was unbelievable. The price of the clothes for children I did think was a little steep the cheapest was £4 for a skirt or trousers type thing and £6 for a dressing gown, my 10 year old got a shirt & top for £8 and my 7 year old bought a dressing gown. They were in awe of everything and I just had to keep saying we'll save up for some other things. We also got a pair of flip flops each they were £4.50.
So the one bear in total was £21 and the other was £24. Accessories ranged from hair accesories to sunglassed, chairs and even mobile phones!
After the girls had paid they took their bear to a row of three computers and set about doing the birth certificate, you have to scan the bear's bar code through and it prints out a birth certificate with your chosen name for the bear and it tells you your bears weight and height!!
It's all very sweet and actually they are well made bears, they are keep sakes and I know the girls will enjoy them. They have already had many hours of fun and many of their dolls clothes such as baby born and chou chou clothes fit the bears so they've been able to change outfits.
The girls thoroughly enjoyed they morning out, it will be a moment for them to treasure.
I'm probably a little bit too old to enjoy this shop but I have to admit I do love it. The idea of Build A Bear is so simple but works really well.
Build A Bear Workshops are located in many of the major cities around the UK some of which are lucky enough to have two stores. The shop does also have a website www.buildabear.co.uk where you can also purchase items.
The stores themselves are generally very fun looking and colourful, with nice window displays. The stores are well laid out, when as long as it's not too busy, you can easily have a look round at all the items they sell for bears. As you are building a bear, the store makes logical sense in how you walk round which is handy. The stores are usually clean and the staff are always very helpful as you have to interact with them as you build your bear. However, they do go out of their way to make sure your ok if your just buying an outfit.
I have built a couple of bears over the years, one which was a gift for myself (I insisted on building it myself) and I have also made one for a friends birthday.
You firstly choose the bear you want. The bears themselves vary in price but expect to pay at least £9.00 for a bear, although expensive they are good quality. They have all the bears they sell on display so you can see what they look like when stuffed. You then take your unstuffed version of the bear to the stuffing machine. However, if you want a voice to go inside your bear remember to pick it up before hand (you can choose pre-recorded sounds or record your own voice, which could be cute though personally I don't like the idea of a bear coming out with the voice of someone I know).
A member of staff will ask how stuffed you want your bear to be, if I was a child I would love a bear that was a little less stuffed and easier to cling on to. However, I always opt for my bear to be stuffed so it looks normal. You are then given a heart that will be put inside your bear. This is the embarrassing part! You have to make a wish and kiss your heart, depending on the staff member (and I would guess how busy it is) you have to do little dances to make sure the wish comes true. Your teddy is then sewn up and after that you can 'wash it'. Personally its not something I've done but is a nice idea for kids to brush their new bear. You then choose accessories for your bear and can dress it at the dressing tables.
The accessories you can buy for your bear are really cute, though very expensive. The average outfit will cost you at least £10.00. There are so many outfits to choose from like dresses, shorts, t-shirts and Pyjamas. Though I love the fact you can buy special outfits, such as Darth Vadar, a policeman, you can even buy wedding outfits which are really cute! This means in theory you could buy someone a bear if they start a new job which I like. Accessories for your bear include shoes, handbags and hats. The only thing that creeps me out slightly is the fact they sell wigs and bikinis for bears it just doesn't look right! The outfits they sell are of good quality and are pretty detailed. However, the bear I have is dressed as Tinkerbell and the shoes are tied on. This means they often fall off, which is fair enough as my bear doesnt really move from one spot, though if I was a child I think it would be fairly easy to loose them.
When your bear is complete there are a couple of computers where you fill in details about your bear. This means a birth certificate can be printed out when you pay to go with your bear. As you can see the amount of detail that goes in to making a bear is amazing, This is why I would recommend taking whoever you are planning on buying a bear for to the shop itself. Although the bear as a gift is nice the experience of building the bear is part of what makes it worth it.
The only issue I really have with this shop is the expense. For example for a friends birthday I bought a bunny bear costing £12.50, I added a birthday bear song that was £2.50, a party dress costing £10.00, a birthday cupcake costing £3.50 and a party hat that was £3.00. Therefore for a teddy bear birthday present I spent over £30.00. I took a friend with me to build this bear and it was a lot of fun and we were in the shop for ages trying to decided on an outfit. Admittedly this bear was for a special birthday so I didn't mind the cost too much but its easy to see if you don't pay attention when building your bear how much you can spend.
I will only venture in to this shop when it's not busy. The shop is very busy at the usual present buying times of year such as Christmas. Due to the fact you build your bear this can make the queues fairly long. However, people can host parties in the shop during normal trading hours. Again this makes the shop busy and although is a really good idea, means I'll avoid the shop until the partys over and it's less busy.
I love build a bear but because of the expense and the fact at peak times of the year it can be ridiculously busy it looses a star from me.
The 2 weeks holidays for the kids seem to be dragging. I feel like they have become so expensive since my daughter never wants to be in the house. Today we visited the metro centre yet again and I got asked the same question as always why do we never go in there? My daughter was referring to the build a bear shop. I can see why she was eager to go in this time however since there was a woman dressed as a bunny giving cuddles out in the door way.
I decided to give in and give my daughter a treat since she had been asking for the last few times of going to the metro centre.
Choosing a bear:
When entering the store the first point you come to is choosing a bear. There is a wide range of stuffed bears and animals of all different colours. When you find the bear or animal you want then you must pick the un-stuffed version from the shelf below. You are now ready to move to the next step.
Stuffing the bear:
The next part you get to in store is a giant stuffing machine. You will find a member of staff here ready to assist to stuff the bear. My daughter was asked to pick one of the red padded hearts from the centre of the machine. When she did so she was asked to kiss the heart and make a silent wish. I thought this was a very nice part to making the bear special to the child. The heart was then put into the bear with a tag that contains a special id number in case the bear is lost and returned, the staff will be able to contact you and return him safely. At this point you can also choose to add a sound or a laugh to the bear's tummy, you can test these out by machine but they are an additional £2.50. My daughter decided not to get one. The bear is then put onto the machine and my daughter was asked to put her foot on the peddle and stuff the bear. The child can chose whether they want the bear to be soft, cuddly or hard. My daughter chose soft and she was asked to cuddle the bear to make sure he was ok for her. Once your bear is stuffed you are ready for the next part.
The next part you get to in store contains all the clothes you can imagine some of these include:
Costumes such as batman and star wars
Jumpers and t. Shirts
Skirts and trousers
Jarmies and dressing gowns
Shoes, boots, wellies and slippers
Sunglasses, necklaces, tiaras and mobiles phones
Kennels, chairs, carriers and loungers
There really is so many different outfits and accessories to choose you can guarantee you will be in the store ages picking them out. Since my daughter is a bit of a tom boy at the minute she decided she wanted the batman outfit complete with gloves. She also chose a pair of black shiny wellies for her bear. Once you have chosen the outfit and accessories you are ready to move to the next part.
The next part you come to in store is the pc section. In this section you have to use the computers to register the bear. You have to put in your child's details including date of birth and address. An adult will most likely have to do this as it's a bit difficult for smaller children. You are then asked to name the bear. Once checking all information provided you are advised to go to the till.
Once at the till the staff will give you the option to dress your bear. The staff are more than happy to do this during payment. I opted to get the staff to dress my bear as it was free and more convenient that doing it at home. The lady totalled my bill while the other lady dressed my bear.
Batman costume outfit £12.00
Black shiny willies £5.50
Once my bear was dressed and I had made payment I received the birth certificate. It was very nice printed on an a4 piece of card. The certificate contained the bear's name (batman) and the name of my daughter. It also has today's date on indicating when the bear was born and how much he weighs. It even contains his eye colour. Once you're ready to leave the bear is put into a white strong box with a handy handle so your child can carry it with ease. The box has a blue print picture of bears and the bear workshop. It had windows in the box and a working door to create the real look of a workshop.
I really loved the whole build a bear experience. I liked the way that each part was easily found by moving around the store. This was my first time building a bear and I wasn't confused by any aspect everything was set out perfectly. I also really loved how the staff get the children involved with making the bear it really added to the bear being so special to the child when they feel like they have contributed to making him. My daughter was over the moon being in charge and helping make her bear.
When I got the bear home I inspected him and I can see that he is made extremely well as his stitching is perfect and solid. His fur is lovely and soft and almost fleecy. The batman outfit is really good. The material is very strong and considerably well made. The batman outfit has all the genuine batman tags on and it really looks the part. It has everything from the eye mask to the yellow belt and the leather look gloves. The outfit also fits the bear very well.
There is no doubt that build a bear is expensive but you do get a wonderful experience and the end teddy and outfit is of extremely good quality. I would defiantly visit this store again but maybe just for an outfit this time minus the bear. You can just purchase clothing and accessories separately and these can range from £5.00. Basically once you get the bear once you can just change its clothes to create a different bear just by changing the outfit. This is a lot cheaper than building a bear every time. I think that as a treat build a bear is a great experience for kids and I will also be considering this shop for birthday gifts too as you can purchase birthday outfits and accessories when building a bear.
I would definitely recommend this store and I couldn't fault the staff at all, they were all very friendly and approachable.
When Build A Bear arrived in the High Street I wondered what it was all about, so I went in to browse and see for myself, I thought it was a good idea to dress a bear and choose it's own outfit etc but I did not have anyone to buy one for until my grandson was born, and for his 1st birthday I thought I would buy him one as I had always wanted to buy one.
When you first enter the shop, you choose a bear cover which and then you go to a salesman or woman and they stuff it with very fine fibre fillings, you can sit there which this is done, and you have options to add to each bear if you wish to do so, if you do not that is fine, the bear coverings range from about £8 to about £18 and there are different ones, bears, rabbits, monkeys, chickens and penquins and much more to choose from.
Once you have chosen the cover and had it stuffed you have a choice to have a heart beat placed into the bear, I think this was about a £1 and then you make a wish when they place it into the cover, they then sew it together with safe kind of invisible string, once this is done, you have a choice to either record your own message for the receiver or just chose from a variety of messages etc, I chose a happy birthday tune which sang happy birthday and it was quite catchy too.
Then you choose the clothes it is going to wear, if you do not want to dress it, that is fine because the person who receives it or if it is for you, you or they can go back and choose the outfit at a later date.
The choice of outfits is enormous, they have shoes, coats, underwear, hats, and accessories, it is like dressing yourself and all items vary in price, and some of them can be a little expensive. They also do outfits for a policeman or woman if it is a gift for a that profession etc. They are really cute though I think when they are all dressed.
They then ask you to give it a name and they even get a birth certificate for it and who named it and who it was from if it is a gift etc.
This shop even do children's parties so a group of children can go around the shop and choose their bears and the staff entertain them.
The shops become very busy when they have these parties, so I recommend timing it just right to avoid them if you are in a hurry but if you are not, they are quite fun.
Lastly they place the bear into a nice cardboard box with a little handle to carry home.
My grandson loves his little bear and when he presses it's hand it sings Happy Birthday to him and he can keep it for life if he so wishes.
I recommend this store if you have small children or even for buying for a loved one as lots of men buy bears for their girlfriends and women for their boyfriends and say their own spoken message.
I give it 5 stars.
Thank you for reading my review.