IamA Build-A-Bear Workshop Employee... AMA!
Oh man! I definitely DON'T recommend trying to change the battery yourself. If it's our build-a-sound, you can actually take it into your local BAB and for about 5 bucks they will ship it off to the bear hospital, then from there it will be sent to the company that makes build a sounds where the batteries will be changed and it will be returned to you in 7-10 weeks. Because this is such a cherished and special sound though, I do agree with other comments that say to attempt to record the sound on some other medium first! You won't be able to export it, but you should be able to get a good recording of the sound on a phone.. I say get a recording or 2 right now while the sound is in the bear, then get a few more recordings at BAB once the sound is out of the bear. It will give you piece of mind to know that you still have the recording on something like your phone- just in case anything happens to your sound. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother :(
Sorry- Build-A-Bear secret ;)
How can you bear working there?
It's actually really fun! It can be tough to maintain the high energy persona when you're feeling sick or having a bad day, but for the most part people who shop at BAB are in a good mood/excited to be there and you're basically just playing with kids your entire shift! PS love the bearism ;)
What's the weirdest thing you've ever experienced working there?
This is a tough one... Probably the time I walked up to a customer and she was quietly cursing out one of the display bears. I'll never know what it did to make her so mad.
I hope OP doesn't mind me chiming in. I used to work at a Build-A-Bear too. Once while in the process of stuffing the bear, the head of a family of like 3 or 4 people said, "Don't stuff it too much. We don't like urns." implying that they were going to put someone's ashes in the bear.
Hahaha! Did they ask you to leave it unstitched for them?
Story and a question:
One of my friends in college; as a joke got his boyfriend a build-a-bear in a leather jacket and jean shorts that said 'You're a f****t' in a high pitched voice when hugged. (like he did a Chipmunks/Care Bears sort of impression to record the voice.)
It was intended as an in-joke and was kind of funny...the first time. He also claimed that when he made it; he blushed and refused to answer when the attendant asked what he made it say.
Anyways; what's the strangest thing a customer's had their bear say?
Oh geez! I imagine there might have been an awkward moment if the sound accidentally went off during the stuffing process!
I answered this question earlier and said that I hadn't had anything weird, but your story reminded me of this guy who made a bear for his girlfriend who was moving away for college- put a sound in that said "you're a fucking asshole!" Normally I would have been like hey there buddy calm down this is a children's store BUT there were literally no other customers in there so I let it slide lol
Are there any secret menu items that customers don't know about?
Hmm... If you ask nicely and/or are a child, there may or may not be an awesome sheet of stickers that we will give you. Exciting stuff I know!
work shirts and a tote bag lanyard, more shirts, 3 different aprons, a backpack, a hot/cold food bag
Can I buy all the items listed here?
I'll sell all of them to you under the table ;) Nah to be real though in my opinion the coolest "Build-A-Bear" stuff is the stuff that you can't buy but can only win by being the best bear in town.
Are all these things available for the public to buy? Can i just buy them?
To my knowledge they're all stuff for employees only, but you could probably find the totes and stuff on ebay if you search hard enough.
You and me both!
Has anyone just shot the stuffing all over the place instead of filling a bear with it?
Never on purpose but it does happen! Sometimes a bear slips off the nozzle while being stuffed. Happened to me once during a huge rush.. once I finished that bear the next customers in line picked the stuffing out of my hair for me. Semi awkward but also hilarious!
Did you know that you sell clothes perfectly fit for small dogs, even with tail-holes already cut, at a fraction of the price that pet stores charge?
Absolutely! They also make great Halloween costumes for tiny babies... sometimes I'll try an outfit or two on my cat.. the PAWsibilities are endless!
... That was bad. Very bad.
Here. Have my upvote.
You got a problem with my bearism bro?
If you had to put a number on it, how many bears do you think you have forcibly stuffed up the ass with a smile on your face?
Ha! Not the most delicate wording, but to answer your question, I'd say I've stuffed well over a thousand by now! I can do it one handed with my eyes closed if that tells you anything (and yes, I've tested that)
Has anyone ever stuffed the bear with anything besides regular stuffing?
People have definitely made additions. More than one of my coworkers has been asked to add pets ashes to bears, my oddest addition was some special stones that I had to put in specific spots or else. Lots of pressure there!
If you could substitute the bear with a different animal, what would it be and why?
Not sure if you're referring to Bearemy our mascot or just the bears in general. We have lots of other animals to choose from to stuff (monkey, cats, dogs..etc) One that I haven't seen in my time here but would like to is a pig! I get tons of requests for it and I know that it would be super cute.
As for Bearemy- I would never replace him :)
I actually have a pig from BAB! But we got him more than a decade ago so I can understand you having not seen one. He is super cute though.
I'm jealous! They're clearly due to bring him back then- maybe next summer.... nah who am I kidding it'll probably be ANOTHER bunny lol
What is the oldest person who was there for them self, that you've seen?
I'm a horrible judge of age, but quite a few people who are middle aged and older make bears for themselves! Once the sweetest woman and her mother (both on the older side) came in to make a bear for the mom to have in the hospital with her. I couldn't bare to ask why she was going into the hospital, but I still think of her every so often and hope all is well.
That's actually super sweet :) sounds like a happy place to work!
It really is! I definitely prefer it over a 'typical' retail job.
Is there any middle ground between younger children and grown adults? Like high school or college aged people?
Definitely! Literally people of all ages build bears, and we never judge them for it. My motto is "you're never too old for a build a bear" no matter how cheesy that may sound
I'm nineteen and love all of my stuffed animals. <3 Maybe I'd have to go there if only for the nostalgia -- though I'm actually not sure whether I ever did as a kid or whether just my older sister did.
You definitely should! :) All the time I get teens and people in their early twenties coming in to build a bear for the first time (or the first time in a long time) and I swear they have more fun than a lot of the kids that come in!
What's the gender breakdown as far as people in that age bracket go, out of curiosity?
Definitely more girls openly buy the bears for themselves- most of the guys claim that they're buying the bear as a gift. BUT who knows how many of them are just saying that even though there is literally no judgement from us employees! (Or there shouldn't be at least. I guess an asshole employee may have infiltrated a BAB somewhere)
I'd imagine so, but pfft, no reason to judge. I'm a male who sees nothing wrong with the idea of having fun making a cute, comfortable stuffed friend. <3
You, my friend, should work at BAB :)
I'm 23 and I can't fall asleep without wrapping my arms around something - like a teddy bear. I made one at BAB for myself a few years ago and I have no shame, I brought it with me to college and everything. It's not cause it's a cute little teddy, but because I just fall asleep better holding on to something and sometimes a pillow just doesn't cut it. I chose to make a bear at BAB (instead of buying one elsewhere) cause I know you can customize it to choose how much stuffing you want which was great for me. Plus it was fun!
That's awesome! I never slept with teddy bears as a kid, but from working at BAB I've bought myself quite a few. Now I sleep with one too! It really is super comforting to wrap your arms around something
Has anyone try to give a bear a penis? serious question.
Haha! Not that I know of, but I did see a very concerning photo of a MLP BAB on the internet once....
What has been the happiest moment for you with a customer?
It's really hard to pick one.. nothing makes me happier at work than when I can see that I have really made a BAB trip special for a family. When parents leave with genuine smiles and a million thank you's, and when kids are literally bouncing with joy and excitement over their new friend.. it really puts things into perspective for me. This may be my job, but for other people it might be the best 30 minutes of their day.
All that being said, one of my favorite memories was when it was near closing time so I was making a list of things I needed to stock, and a little girl who I had been helping asked what I was doing and if she could help me. Of course I said sure, so she grabbed the list and my pen out of my hand and "signed her name." She was only maybe 3 so her signing was just some lines. Either way I thought it was so freakin cute that I took a picture of it that is still on my phone!
Other fav memories are from one particular family who always happened to come in while I was working. It became a running joke that I was the only one allowed to stuff bears for them but they stuck too it! They would come in and say "Oh we were here the other day but you weren't here so we left!" I even met the whole extended family when they were in town.. it was so sweet because they already knew all about me. This family moved away though a few months ago which is sad :(
Is build a bear involved in charity work for kids at all? I'm thinking of something like the child's play thing the penny arcade guys do.
Do you have trolls or any fantasy creatures or is it just normal critters?
Explain the child's play thing! I haven't heard of it.
Every customer has the option to donate $1 to rotating charities during their transaction, and other than that we will have bears that donate to charities with purchase. The BAB website currently lists 3 that are actually retired now.. which hopefully means that new ones will be coming soon.
To answer part 2- mostly just normal animals, but they'll often be all different colors of the rainbow!
What's the first step to building a bear?
Pick out whatever one you like best! At any given time we have probably 30 or so bears and other animals to choose from that range in price from $12 to $25.
What's the weirdest thing you've heard recorded for a bears voice box?
I've never personally stuffed a bear with an odd voice recording, but I did have a customer once tell me that she recieved a white elephant gift that was a build a bear with a recording that said "I'm gonna kill you!" So I know weird stuff is out there..
What's the deal with the whole routine you have to do there? I stopped by once to get a specific bear for my girlfriend and I had to go through the same ordeal that a kid would. I was like, WTF man, just put some shit in the bear so I can leave.
Things like that come down from corporate, it's literally something the employees are required to do. I'm guessing they don't want to ask you to do it either. At the end of the day, it takes 2 minutes and it makes everyone's lives easier. They don't have to hear you complain you don't want to do it, and you don't have to argue why you shouldn't have to.
That's pretty much what the guy told me as he asked a grown man to kiss a heart before putting inside the bear.
Yep, as much as people don't want to believe it, it's NOT just us torturing you. I consider myself to be pretty nice because I don't force adults who clearly just want to buy their bear and get outta there to do anything, but it's all about reading people. If someone looks like they'll be up for it, I'll keep it simple with a wish and a kiss. If they are enjoying those two, I'll throw in some things that are more exciting. (To be honest though, I probably would have made you do the whole ceremony too because the bear was for your girlfriend.) When it comes to the kids though, we pretty much have to go all out all the time- even if the kid isn't feeling it. Just had a customer complain to me the other day that she recieved "disgusting service" by my coworker.. asked her what happened and she said that the heart ceremony wasn't long enough! There's a lot of pressure.
In your opinion, what is the most precious thing that someone could create in the workshop?
It's really all situational.. any time someone is building a bear for someone else before they leave for school or deployment or whatever, I think that that is going to be the recipient's most cherished possession. Had an older couple came in, and the man made a bear for his wife with a recording of his voice that she was to keep in a safe place until he passed. That one was really really heart-wrenching.
Any new MLP plushes? I got a Twilight Sparkle for my girlfriend and she's craving for a Derpy Hooves.
I heard word that princess celestia (sp?) is coming out next, and after that who knows! I definitely don't expect them to stop coming out with new MLP any time soon.
They need a Rocket Raccoon while Guardians of the Galaxy is still hot.
I wouldn't hold your breath lol it takes SO long for copyrighted stuff to make it into the stores.. we're just now allowed to talk about Frozen coming next month if that tells you anything.
How much do you make at BAB?
I make slightly above minimum wage because of my time there and my position. This definitely isn't a job you go into for the money!
Minimum wage. I used to work there too. Birthday parties were the most tedious work assignments..and we were not allowed to accept tips after hosting 35 screaming children in the store.
I remember after I did a party, my voice is gone and I'm sweating, but it was a kickass party. Party family tries to tip me, I refuse, so they're like "Okay we're buying you lunch then!" and slips money into my apron haha I was like ok!
Are some of the rules still as ridiculous as when I worked there a few years ago? I distinctly remember being told that hair wasn't allowed to be dyed under any circumstances, and we could be fired if it was, because "seeing someone with a pink streak in their hair is a bad influence on children".
All hair must be natural colors... I guess it could be worse- at least we're allowed to paint our nails! I used to have purple in my hair that I had to get rid of for this job, and while I miss it it's not too bad. Honestly the khaki pants w/ belt and tucked in shirt is much more annoying to me!
Ah, we never needed a belt, and I was always in one of the special seasonal t-shirts haha. Seems like we were quite relaxed with the rules!
You lucky duck! I hope you at least had to suffer through the dreaded denim shirt.. makes me cringe just thinking about it!
Have you ever worried that someone might be using BAB as something to lure children? Perhaps seeing a man come in multiple times, each time with a new child?
I haven't really thought about or seen that specific scenario, but now I'm going to be overanalyzing every customer!
What happened to velvet teddy and why has the look changed so much?
BAB is always changing up the "staple" bears. Happy hugs, lil almond/sandy cubs, bearemy, even the monkey have all had makeovers! I really like the current velvet teddy though..
Has a child, or adult for that matter, ever requested something really messed up to be recorded and put inside the bear or anything? Like to where you heard what message they were sending and said "Hell no, sir."
I once had a customer ask to put a smaller bear inside a bigger bear for a pregnant relative. Then, said that he would come back in 9 months and have us cut it out of the bear. That's the most memorable "Uh, No" experience I had there. There were definitely others. You meet some interesting people.
Source: BABW Employee and Manager for 7 years.
Hahahahahah!!!! Dude I would have had to excuse myself to laugh in the backroom after that one
What's the worst kid tantrum you've experienced at the store? Also, Champ is best bear.
Just lots and lots of screaming. All the time. Any time the kid doesn't get what they want. Some days I think I'll go deaf.. BUT I keep stickers in my apron because stickers make everything better. I agree!! My favorite bear that I have is a Champ
How many bears do you have? do you get some kind of discount?
I have maybe 5 or 6, and a few small ones that were given to me by the company. Yep! 30% discount, but can't be used on new releases. We're not even allowed to buy Toothless at all at the moment because he is so popular
What is the most expensive bear (or stuffed animal) you have seen made?
Hmm.. There was one family that started with a $25 animal, sound, scent, heartbeat- all the fixings. Multiple outfits with every accessory the girl could want, and of course a car to drive the pony home in. Total came out to well over $100.
Can you build a bear?
I do it on the daily.
What's the most fucked up bear you have made?
I know this isn't the direction you were going with this question, but every now and then there are defective bears and more than once I've had bears with legs sewn backwards and eyes in odd places on the face. It's hilarious
Do customers get a discount if they say they want one of the reject bears?
I don't give defect discounts- If a customer has an issue with the defect I just have them make a new one before they even leave the stuffer. (I might do this partially because I want to buy the defective bears for myself...)
Has anyone asked to build a bear for adult reasons? (He/She wants to eff the bear)
No one has come out and said it... but something I've seen on the internet tells me that it does indeed happen.
What's the worst name you've heard a child give a bear/animal?
Octopussy. I about shat myself laughing when they left!
Will the black cats return anytime soon?
There's currently a mini "lucky kitty" but as for the full size stuffable one.. who knows! I hope so because I love it- bought one for myself last year.
So I have a bear that is coming apart. I was able to stitch him up about a year ago but he is beginning to unstitch again.
How much does it cost to have him stitched up?? And would I have messed up anything, because I stitched it instead of coming into the store when it first happened?
Restitching is free! I doubt you messed anything up- just take it into your local BAB and they will work their magic :)
Do you know how long you guys will have the Toothless dragons? I want to make one for my girlfriend, since she loves Toothless. He reminds her of her cat that passed away and lost a leg to bone cancer.
It depends on the store! As far as I know some don't have him yet, but everyone should have him by October 10th which was his intended release date. Some stores got him early and he is going in and out of stock online.. your best bet is to call your local store and ask them if they have him, and how many they have so that you can judge how quickly you need to get there before he runs out!
Thank you very much.
No problem! Best of luck to you- he's definitely in high demand
Can you hear what the person is recording for the bear? Can I have a prerecorded movie line that has bad language and put it in the bear?
If you record it in store then yep- you can purchase the sound and bring it back once it's recorded if you do it in the privacy of your own home.. but even then the employee will probably check it to make sure it works before and after putting it in the bear! I say just warn them first so they're not like "whoah there!"
With the advancements of technology/with 10 year olds having iPhones, have business gone down since the early 2000s?
I obviously can only really guess on the answer to this, but I would say yes business has gone down. I know a year or two back a lot of stores were closed, and I know that my store has definitely seen a decrease from what our traffic once was. Whether that can be blamed completely on technology is up for debate, but I know that BAB is definitely trying to keep up with the times. We have "stores of the future" now and at any BAB you can buy things like cellphones and pawpads for your bears!
1) what's the best day of the week or time of day to go to a BABW if you don't want to hear a bunch of screaming kids?
2) any special offers or coupons we should know about?
Weekday mornings are always the slowest. Avoid the store at all costs on the weekends and national holidays! Things get......... intense. Hmmmm here in the US the MLP bears are 25% off starting today through the 16th I believe. As for coupons, every now and then we'll hand out coupons to use the following month, but none of those are out right now. Your best bet for random coupons is make sure you're a member of the Stuff Fur Stuff club! (It's free)
Are there dragons there?
There may or may not be Toothless from HTTYD depending on where you live!
Why are you representing the company without permissioN?
Somehow I don't think this counts as "representing the company".....
Yes, because I am the CEO and you are fired, aahahahahaha
Please no! What will I tell the wife and kids?
Hi, i have a bear from the build a bear workshop. It was a present for my 1 year old daughter from my mother who passed away 4 weeks ago. It contains a recording of my mothers voice with a message for my daughter telling her that she loves her. It is currently the most precious thing in the world for me as it contains one of the few recordings of my mothers voice. So my question is this: if i change the batteries in the bear, will it erase the recording? How long do i have to get new batteries into the bear once i remove the old ones, and is there any way to export the recording from the bear for upload so i'll never lose it?
View HistoryShare Link