Police were called to a Build-A-Bear store today after reports of trouble among the giant queues for 'Pay Your Age' day.
Shoppers raced to the store today (THURS) for a one-off promotion, offering customers the chance to buy any bear - which can cost upwards of £50 - for the price of their child's age.
Hundreds of bargain hunters who flocked to the Solihull store were turned away by bosses amid safety concerns - as queues reached 'overwhelming and unprecedented' levels.
And police were also called to the branch of Build-A-Bear , in Touchwood Shopping Centre, after reports of a 'disturbance'.
The cheap teddy offer sparked chaos - with customers taking to social media to complain of 'fights' outside the Solihull store and queues lasting longer than FOUR HOURS.
One mother even claimed to have witnessed shoppers throwing bears out of the store, into the crowds.
Parents describe the 'nightmare' scenes
Kieghley Louise, a mum-of-two from Shard End, told BirminghamLive she had taken her eldest child out of school especially for the event - as a 'special end-of-term treat'.
But they were left disappointed after arriving at the Touchwood branch to find the store already closed, with hundreds still queueing outside.
She said: "I heard through social media last week that Build-A-Bear were due to be running an offer.
"I planned to bring my kids as a treat - they have bears from there which are expensive, so this was a one-off special chance.
"I kept my daughter off school for the day as it's coming to the end of term and she deserved a treat.
"We arrived at Touchwood at 10:30am after travelling from Shard End.
"When we arrived the shutters were already down and the people in front of us had been waiting three or four hours.
"The queues were shocking.
"No-one would move away from the shop as we believed it would soon reopen.
"The police were eventually called due to the high volume of people, then security came to move everyone back into a single line.
"Eventually the store was closed altogether due to worries over health and safety.
"I stayed for around two hours before eventually we were handed £12 off vouchers to use before July 28.
"We disputed this and were finally given 'pay-your-age' vouchers instead.
"My children are disappointed. They are only six and three and don't understand why they couldn't have a bear today as promised."
Others told of 'bedlam' in Touchwood, and told how the store had brought the shutters down at around 9.35am.
One man wrote on Facebook: "Unreal scenes at Touchwood. They have got six or seven coppers and the same amount of security. Shutters down."
Another shopper added: "It was a complete nightmare. I saw bears just being thrown out of the shop into the crowds."
One mother wrote: "We were in the front of the queue and people were literally fighting. Loads of bears left and loads in the stock room but they closed the shop completely due to health and safety concerns."
And another shopper added: "There's police there now - store closed all day. It's bedlam! Don't go!"
Police issued this statement
Police confirmed they were called to reports of a 'disturbance' in the Touchwood Shopping Centre, but no arrests were made.
"We were called to reports of a disturbance at a shop in the Touchwood Shopping Centre, Solihull, at 11.30pm today," a West Midlands Police spokeswoman said.
"Officers attended, no offences were reported and no arrests have been made."
A spokeswoman for the Solihull shopping centre confirmed the store was now closed for the day, after high demand for the promotion this morning.
"There has been high demand for a Build-A-Bear promotion this morning," the spokeswoman said.
"Our staff managed the situation and ensured visitors to the centre were safe and experienced as minimal disruption as possible.
"The Build-A-Bear store at Touchwood has now closed for today and Build-A-Bear customers should contact their customer service directly with any queries."
The scenes of chaos in Solihull were echoed in Birmingham's Bullring, where queues for the store snaked around the entire ground floor.
How Build-A-Bear responded
Build-A-Bear bosses said earlier this week that for one-day only, the age of a guest would determine how much their furry friend would cost.
So instead of paying the usual £25 or so for a character, a three-year-old for example would pay £3, with the minimum £1 charge for under ones.
But in a statement today Build-A-Bear said: "The response to our Pay Your Age Day event at all of our UK locations has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history.
"The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations and, per local authorities, queues are at capacity and we cannot accept additional guests due to extreme crowds and safety concerns.
"We understand our guests are disappointed, and we are working to address the situation.
"We will reach out directly to our valued guests as soon as possible."