September 27th, 2012

Build-A-Bear Goes High Tech

By Elizabeth Olson
New York Times

BUILD-A-BEAR WORKSHOP stores, a children’s destination for more than a decade, are moving beyond stuff, fluff, dress and accessory formulas to increase the interactive choices that children have when they create a favorite bear or other furry creature.

Now that digital gadgets are a much bigger part of children’s play, Build-A-Bear is opening new stores that aim to entertain digitally adept children with more interactive options to keep them coming back.

The company, which has sold nearly 110 million plush animals since it started in 1997, introduced its first revamped store this week, in St. Louis, and plans to open more such concept stores nationwide.

“We wanted it to be more of an experience,” said Maxine Clark, the founder and chief executive of Build-A-Bear, which has 296 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, but has had losses in two of the last three years as the tight economy and electronic games have buffeted the toy market.

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