Tens of thousands of people filled malls across the U.S. today to take part in Build-A-Bear's "Pay Your Age Day," only to discover they would not be bringing home a new stuffed animal.
Many Build-A-Bear stores opened early and ran out of inventory as people lined up to get to the stores. Malls reported crowding and the chain eventually cut off the lines due to safety concerns.
Photos from Parkway Place Mall in Huntsville showed a line stretching through the mall. Similar crowds were reported at the Riverchase Galleria and Eastern Shore Shopping Center in Spanish Fort.
At first, Build-A-Bear issued a statement saying the company had to limit the lines due to safety concerns.
"Based on the unprecedented response to our Pay Your Age Day event in our early opening stores, we are experiencing significantly longer than expected lines and large crowds. Local authorities are requiring us to limit the lines and crowds due to safety concerns. We understand this is disappointing, we are working to address the situation, and we will be reaching out to our valued guests soon," the company said in a website statement.
In a later statement it said all Pay Your Age Day lines had been cut off and no new people would be allowed to join the queue.
"Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our locations due to crowds and safety concerns. We have closed lines in our U.S. and Canada stores. We understand some guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible," the update said.
The company had been promoting the July 12 event that allowed children to pay their age for any of the stuffed animals in the store for weeks. There was a limit of one toy per guest and you had to sign up for the free Bonus Club to take part.
Many disappointed customers are taking to social media to complain.
"Guess your marketing department didn't think this one through well enough," one said.
"They are so unorganized! This is horrible!" another added.