Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Money Pit

The money pit I am referring to here isn't the house, as typically labeled. It is Build A Bear Workshop. Whoever came up with the idea of having kids stuff their own animals for twice the price they normally cost is nothing short of a genius. And most likely very wealthy by now.

I have to admit that I like Build A Bear. I think it's cute in a super cheesy sort of way. I secretly want to make and stuff my own animal, one just for me. I want my own cardboard bear house.

Build A Bear isn't just bears anymore. They have relatively inexpensive bears starting at $10 all the way up to $30, just for an unstuffed animal. They have just about every kind of animal you could imagine, and rotate new ones in all the time. They have seasonal animals, and those tend to be harder to find. We did get Rudolph, but never were able to find Clarice.

The place is a money pit because it is virtually impossible to walk out of there without dropping more cash than intended. The marketing department of the company is good. You have to hand it to them. In the years that they have been in existence, they have contracted relationships with Disney, every major sports franchise, Hello Kitty, even Limited Too - girls can get matching outfits for their new friend and themselves. Genius. Lure the kids in, and make them want everything.

There are walls and aisles of outfits for the bears. Costumes. Seasonal themed sets. Shoes, purses and carriers. There are even little bear underwear and pajamas. For the *baby* bears, there are baby clothes and baby toys. And of course, the kids feel like they need to get everything for their bears.

Before we ever step foot in the place, I have to sit the kids down and remind them that we aren't getting everything. You could walk out of that place easily spending $100 per bear. Easily. It's to the point now that I tell them they can have an animal, but that's it. And, preferably, not the huge animal or the logo animal that costs the most. Ashley in particular seems drawn to the most expensive animal every time. The girl has expensive taste.

Even Aidan gets in on it. He owns pajamas for his bears. Costumes and baseball outfits. You'd think that he might have outgrown it by now, but no such luck. Still fun for him.

The people that work there make or break the experience for the kids. A good BAB stuffer makes them jump up and down, twirl, make wishes for their bear and kiss the little heart at least once before stitching it closed. Rushed BAB stuffers aren't as much fun, and you feel like you aren't getting your money's worth without the silliness. After all, the animals can't really cost that much. You are paying for the ambience. The experience.

We went to Build A Bear last night, and like mom made them promise, no one threw a fit for extra goodies. They walked out of the mall, in a line like little ducklings following their momma, proudly carrying their new little cardboard houses. And Build A Bear got $40 richer thanks to me, even with two coupons!

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