Build-A-Bear Workshop

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Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc.
Traded asNYSEBBW
Russell Microcap Index
ISINUS1200761047 Edit this on Wikidata
FoundedOctober 26, 1997; 22 years ago (1997-10-26)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
FounderMaxine Clark
HeadquartersOverland, Missouri, U.S.[1]
Key people
Sharon Price John (President, CEO)
ProductsStuffed toys
Sports Stuff
RevenueDecrease US$358 million (2017)[2]
Number of employees
~5,643 (2011)

Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. is an American retailer headquartered in Overland, Missouri that sells teddy bears and other stuffed animals and characters. Customers go through an interactive process in which the stuffed animal of their choice is assembled and tailored to their own preferences during their visit to the store. Build-A-Bear Workshop is the largest chain that operates in this style. The company's slogan was "Where Best Friends Are Made" from 1997-2013 when it was changed to "The Most Fun You'll Ever Make." [3] As of April 2019, the company's president/CEO is Sharon Price John.[4]


A Build-A-Bear Workshop at Vaughan Mills in Toronto

In 1996, Maxine Clark resigned as president of Payless ShoeSource and started a string of retail stores with interactive experiences similar to her childhood of various events held at department stores. She went to toy factories and children's retail stores looking for ideas. She drew up three plans then presented them to a panel of children. The build-a-bear concept was select from the three as the children was excited about it and stuffed animals' high-profit margin.[3] Doll shops (known as Build-A-Doll) was also a part of the original business plan.[5]

Clark founded Build-A-Bear in 1997.[6] Adrienne Weiss Co. of Los Angeles was hired to develop the concept. Clark wanted to expand the store into a chain from the beginning, expecting to open three to five stores in 1998 and six to ten stores in 1999 to have 100 stores within five years. [3] She opened the first store in the Saint Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights, Missouri.[6] The first year's sales at $377,600 were above projections.[3]

With store opening cost of $500,000 to $700,000 and estimated per store sales at $2 million, Clark quickly found capital firms to invest for the expansions. Kansas City Equity Partners invested to allow her to open its second store in August 1998 in Overland Park, Kansas. Windsor Capital injected $4.5 million into the company, which allowed for two Chicago area stores to open. With the four stores opened in 1998, the chain had $3.3 million in sales.[3]

Build-A-Bear continued to impressed investors with Walnut Capital Partners investing in 1999 $5 million for expansion. The expansion consisted of stores opened in major cities to bring the chain to 14 stores. The stores were doubling the national mall averages of $350 sales per square foot.[3]

Clark took the company public in 2004.[7]

A few Build-A-Bear Workshop locations began testing the "make-your-own-doll" concept in early 2004. In November 2004, Clark opened the first Friends 2B Made store with this concept in Robinson near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania followed by a location in Columbus, Ohio on November 19, 2004. Existing mass doll makers had slipping sales and a number of speciality doll makers entered the market, eToys' My Twinn, Mattel's American Girl. [5] By October 2006, there were 9 Friends 2B Made stores in operation. By September 31, 2009, they were all either shuttered or converted into expanded Build-A-Bear outlets, with their staff being offered jobs at Bear locations. The Friends 2B Made products display fixtures were removed from about 50 workshop locations.[8]

The Game Factory developed and released a Build-A-Bear Workshop video game for the Nintendo DS platform for Christmas 2007.[9] A Build-A-Bear game for the Nintendo Wii, subtitled A Friend Fur All Seasons, was released in fall 2008.

In 2010, in honor of Sanrio's fiftieth anniversary, Build-A-Bear released limited edition Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty, Chococat, My Melody, and Keroppi, including the release of mini-keychains of the four characters along with Deery Lou.[10]

Build-A-Bear released a feature film, available on the iPad through MoPix, in December 2011.[11] Cepia, LLC settled a patent and copyright infringement lawsuit over a color-changing bear against BAB in 2013.[12] Also in 2013, founder Maxine Clark retired as CEO,[6] and Sharon Price John took over the position.[13] In 2015, a lawsuit sought damages for discriminating against blind people and lack of blind-accessible point-of-sale machines in Build-a-Bear shops.[14]

On July 12, 2018, Build-A-Bear held an event in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada where patrons could pay their child's age for a bear.[15] The relatively low price of the stuffed bears for younger children attracted massive numbers of people, overwhelming the franchise's stores as well as many shopping malls in which Build-A-Bear franchises were located. The event prompted a surge in public awareness of the Build-A-Bear brand, according to a subsequent YouGov poll, nearly all of which was negative.[16] Sharon Price John, president and CEO, apologized; the company stated that those who had waited in line would receive vouchers.[17]

During the 2018 holiday season, Build-A-Bear opened six pop-up pilot shops in Walmart stores. The success of the pilot led to the expansion of Build-A-Bear into a further 25 Walmart locations in 2019.[18]

The company launched a streaming radio station in October 2018.[19] Build-A-Bear Workshop teamed up with Warner Music Group's Arts Music and Warner Chappell Music in July 2019 to partner on a Build-A-Bear music label. Patrick Hughes and Harvey Russell went on board to guide the label.[20]

With an announcement of having secured a deal with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions in an August 2019 Q2 earnings report, Build-A-Bear was starting up an in-house production entity, Build-A-Bear Entertainment.[19][21] The first planned movie is to be a The Honey Girls movie, which releases songs and music videos on its YouTube channel. CEO Price John also indicated two Christmas movies are in development for the Hallmark Channel with the first to be broadcast winter 2019.[19]

Product mix[edit]

Beyond the built bears, the store carried other merchandise, "Bearaphenalia," to encourage repeat business. These items included candy, greeting cards, jewelry, stationery, stickers, and t-shirts. Also, the stores had a photo booth that converts the pictures into stickers.[3]


  1. ^ "New Build-A-Bear CEO upbeat on turnaround, future". St. Louis Post-dispatch. January 19, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  2. ^ "Income Statement for Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc (BBW) from". Morningstar. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. History. International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.62. St. James Press, 2004. Retrieved October 26, 2017 – via
  4. ^ Nicklaus, David. "Build-A-Bear CEO gets no bonus, but stock boosts her pay to $2.15 million". Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "With holidays approaching, specialty dolls are where the action is". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Gallo, Carmine. "Build-A-Bear Founder On The Secret To Success: Big Dreams And An Even Bigger Heart". Forbes. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  7. ^ Solomont, E.B. (June 4, 2013). "Here is how much Build-A-Bear's new CEO is making". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  8. ^ "UPDATE 2-Build-A-Bear to close friends 2B made concept". Reuters. September 16, 2008. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  9. ^ Build-A-Bear Workshop - IGN, retrieved June 6, 2019
  10. ^ "Hello Kitty and Sanrio Friends Celebrate Sanrio's 50th Anniversary at Build-A-Bear Workshop". Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  11. ^ "Build-A-Bear Workshop". Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  12. ^ "Build-A-Bear, Cepia settle patent lawsuit". St. Louis Business Journal. August 27, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  13. ^ Kirn, Jacob (March 14, 2019). "Build-A-Bear to close up to 30 stores, reports loss". St.Louis Business Journal. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  14. ^ Unglesbee, Ben (June 3, 2015). "Lawsuit accuses Build-A-Bear of discriminating against blind people". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  15. ^ "Shut out of Build-a-Bear 'Pay Your Age Day'? Try this birthday month deal instead". Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  16. ^ "Fluffed it! The truth about Build-A-Bear's day of mayhem".
  17. ^ "Build-A-Bear CEO apologizes for chaotic 'pay your age day' promotion". Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  18. ^ Fernandez, Henry (June 3, 2019). "Build-A-Bear and Walmart team up, fending off retail apocalypse". FOXBusiness. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c Konczal, Lea (August 30, 2019). "Build-A-Bear targets the big screen with movie production unit, Hallmark Channel movies". St. Louis Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  20. ^ Cirisano, Tatiana (July 9, 2019). "Build-A-Bear Workshop Launches New Record Label With Warner Music Group & Warner Chappell". Billboard. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  21. ^ Whyte, Alexandra (August 30, 2019). "Build-A-Bear builds a prodco". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications. Retrieved September 3, 2019.

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