Build-A-Bear Workshop Shuts Down Lines as Large Crowds Gather for ‘Pay Your Age’ Event

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Lines for Build-A-Bear Workshop's highly anticipated "Pay-Your-Age" event were shut down at locations across the U.S. Thursday morning due to overwhelming crowds and safety issues, leading to disappointment and frustration for many customers who were left empty-handed.

The company made the announcement about 8 a.m. PT. as significant crowds were reported at locations around the country, including in Southern California.

"Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our U.S. Build-A-Bear Workshop locations due to crowd and safety concerns," a statement on Build-A-Bear's website and social media accounts read.

The statement continued: "We have closed lines in our U.S. stores. We understand some of our Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible."

Even before local malls opened, videos showed long lines stretching outside shopping centers from Montebello to Cerritos as customers clamored to take part in the deal.

Similar scenes played out around the U.S., as it appeared the company wasn't quite prepared for the massive turnout.

"Build-A-Bear Workshop’s Pay Your Age Day event generated an overwhelming response, resulting in long lines, extensive waits and disappointed Guests. We feel it is important to share that, based on the information available to us before the day began, we could not have predicted this reaction to our Pay Your Age Day event," according to a statement from the company. "We understand that many Guests were turned away as, due to safety concerns created by the crowds, authorities in certain locations closed Build-A-Bear stores and, in other locations, we were forced to limit the line."

Guests who were in line but didn't get to build a bear were given vouchers, good for use through Aug. 31, the statement said.

Prior to the chaos erupting Thursday morning, the company had said that guests who visit stores on July 12 would be able take part in "Pay Your Age Day," meaning they would pay their current age for any make-your-own furry friend in all stores in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

Build-A-Bear created the one-day promotion "to kick off its new, everyday celebration of birthdays," according to a news release.

"We have overwhelming data that indicates Build-A-Bear is synonymous with childhood, and nearly one-third of our sales are associated with birthdays," said Sharon Price John, president and chief executive officer of Build-A-Bear Workshop.

In addition to the one-day promotion, shoppers who are 14 years old or younger can pay their age for a Birthday Treat Bear during their birthday month as part of the "Count Their Candles" promotion.

That deal starts Thursday and will be available all year long.

KTLA's Meghan McMonigle contributed to this story. 

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