Build-A-Bear Turns Normal Summer Thursday Into Worst Black Friday Ever

With chaotic, never-ending lines at places like the Cherry Hill Mall, the store’s “Pay Your Age Day” promotion came to an early end on Thursday. Sorry, kids.

It was too good to be true.

Parents trying to take part in Build-A-Bear’s one-day-only “Pay Your Age Day” celebration — a simple concept allowing parents to pay their child’s age for one of the retailer’s build-your-own stuffed animals — flooded stores in the Philadelphia area on Thursday.

In fact, things have gotten so bad across the country that (as requested by local authorities) the company has ended the promotion early and closed its lines at all U.S. stores “due to crowd and safety concerns.”

It was supposed to go like this: You sign up for a Build-A-Bear Bonus Club membership (which is free and was required to cash in on the deal), then you visit a Build-A-Bear location tell a store associate how old you are (or how old your kid is), and you pay your age. So a 15-year-old would pay $15. Or you would pay $3 for your 3-year-old. That’s it. No ID required. The minimum price was $1, and the maximum price would be $29 (regardless of age).

Who knew such a charming concept could spiral into complete chaos?

Behold, the Cherry Hill Mall Build-A-Bear at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday:

As you can see, apparently a lot of people really don’t want to pay full price for their Build-A-Bears, which typically cost between $12 and $16 for a minimally stuffed/dressed bear and $65 to $75 for something like a blinged-out Pikachu, a Jumbo Rainbow Friends Bear, or a giant personalized rabbit.

Build-A-Bear offered the following statement/apology on Thursday:

The response to our Pay Your Age Day event has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history, and the safety of our Guests and associates is our top priority. The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations and, per local authorities, U.S. stores cannot accept any additional Guests for this event and are limiting lines due to extreme crowds and safety concerns. We understand our affected Guests may be disappointed, and we are working to address the situation. We will reach out directly to our valued Guests as soon as possible.

Cherry Hill Mall wasn’t the only local mall seeing crazy lines. Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, Bucks County, had a queue outside the building.

Things were hectic at the Springfield and King of Prussia malls as well.

Looks like you should’ve planned this one a little better, Build-A-Bear.