I’m In Love…

…with Build A Bear!

I was recently put in touch with Estelle from Publicasity, who wanted some Mummy bloggers to have a trip to Build A Bear and blog about their experience, and it’s somewhere I’ve wanted to take Daniel for ages so I leaped at the chance. And I have to say, I absolutely love this shop and cannot recommend them highly enough. With or without children.

We went to the Metrocentre store, which I am reliably informed is one of the biggest in the UK. I can believe it – there is loads of room to manoeuvre a pram, despite there being plenty of customers, and still have loads of products to look at – in fact, I had no idea you could get this much gear for a teddy bear! Anyway, the store is lovely and welcoming, and big enough so that a small child doesn’t feel hemmed in.

Now, I need to remind you that Daniel is just over 3, and has more mood swings than I did when I was pregnant. All the way there he was excited, talking about the big orange bear he was going to make. The minute we stepped foot inside Build A Bear, he clammed up and clung to me or Grandma, refusing to look at the bears or any of the display models. We built Emily’s bear, we coaxed him towards the machines, the clothes, the brushes, but he simply refused to take part. All through this the staff were unfailingly patient. Kate, who was looking after us, never faltered in her enthusiasm or her extremely kind manner with him, but eventually we admitted defeat. We decided to go and have a drink and a sticky bun, then come back, and as soon as we left the shop, the weather vane spun again and Daniel suddenly couldn’t live without a bear. Grr. So we trooped back in, and the wonderful Kate took a very quiet but happy Daniel through all the steps of building his bear.

If you’ve never done this, you have to. I insist. Now. Go. After choosing your bear, and there are too many gorgeous ones to choose (I was particularly drawn to the monkey and the terrier, but both children got traditional teddy bears) you take it to the stuffing machine. These are pretty big and noisy, but Daniel wasn’t in the least bothered, and I think this is mostly because the child controls the machine using a pedal. This kind of detail shows how much the designers have taken children’s needs into consideration, and it was very much appreciated yesterday. By the way, a note about the actual bears. Some, for example the Champ that Daniel chose, are quite long-haired, but the Velvety one we got for Emily is specially designed for babies or children with asthma or other allergies. It has short hair that doesn’t moult and is very baby safe. Just in case you were wondering. And the construction of all the bears is really clever, so that when it is stuffed you cannot see which bits were ready-stitched and which were just finished off in the shop. There are no loose threads, for example. Anyway…

I’m not going to go through every step of the process, but Daniel loved it. He chose the sound to go in- we decided to go for a pre-recorded sound rather than doing it himself. Watch out for the giggle, that’s a little creepy, as is the optional ‘beating heart’. The other sounds are great though. All the way through Daniel felt really engaged, and he was obviously in charge of his bear, brushing its fur and choosing its clothes. Oh, the clothes! Beautifully made, a HUGE range of styles and colours, and even some novelty costumes (including a Darth Vader outfit – seriously). Shoes; accessories for every occasion – no excuse for a well-dressed bear to ever be without the perfect outfit. Daniel ended up with a groovy guitar dude, complete with hoodie, jeans and shades. Once he was dressed, we went to the computer station to complete the bear’s birth certificate. Yes, birth certificate. Although Daniel insists it’s a treasure map. Armed with birth certificate, which is really nice because you can personalise who stuffed the bear, for example Emily’s says “Stuffed with hugs by Mummy”, the bear is popped into its house (a sturdy carrying box) and away you go.
The thing with Build a Bear is that although the initial outlay is a little high – although well worth it, for the quality of the teddy – the clothes and accessories cover pretty much any budget. You can get, for example, a full outfit for around £10-ish or something small like a guitar for £2.50, which means it’s a good bet for pocket money or birthday money. Also, these bears will last for YEARS, and there will always be some outfit or accessory you haven’t got, so it’s a brilliant idea for grandparents or relatives who may be struggling for present ideas. You can even get a wardrobe to keep it all in!

The problem is, I can see it becoming addictive. I went straight home and looked on the website for more outfits and shoes.

I’m just glad I have my children. Now I have an excuse to keep going back!

Note: I have some lovely pictures which I took on my visit but for some reason WordPress is not playing nicely so until I can figure out how to get these pictures up you’ll have to imagine two very cute bears and two even cuter children. Many thanks.

12 thoughts on “I’m In Love…”

  1. Oh I love it there too. It used to be called The Bear Factory and we got Claire a bear for her birthday – maybe her 12th? – that we dressed as a rocker and called Kurt Cobear. Yeah, she was going through a Nirvana phase.
    I think the most fun thing is actually choosing everything for the crittur – you get to be quite creative within the options available. My only gripe? Why-oh-why do they HAVE to make all the poodles pink!

  2. Kurt Cobear? I LOVE IT!! SO wish I’d thought of that for Daniel’s rocker dude, although he was quite insistent it should be called Lion.

    I love the stuff you can choose from. I’m so glad I don’t live closer or I’d be there all the time. Maybe they should make me a Build a Bear Ambassador so I can get loads of free stuff *cough* tell everyone how great it is? 😉

  3. i have a bear called harley who has a leather biker jacket and bandana that my husband (then boyfriend) bought for me and my son has a teddy called harry that was bought by his cousin who’s 4 years old. unfortunately i haven’t experienced the joy of stuffing my own teddy due to both bears being bought by someone else 🙁 but my husband did say he quite enjoyed (secretly) kissing the bears heart and making a wish before putting it in his chest lol

  4. What? You must go! Now!

    Seriously, it’s an amazing experience, even for a shy and contrary little thing like my son. And it can be an expensive teddy bear, but worth every penny because it is really good quality and will last for years. For me, it takes some beating as a special present. 🙂

  5. I love build-a-bear! My sister got Lewis one for his 1st birthday (called Lewbear?!?) and he still sleeps with it every night at 2 and a half. It’s had some hammer, but is still like new and the sound still works, despite being pressed continuously for at least an hour most bedtimes. I get so excited everytime I walk past the shop! Love it!

  6. Yes I can see these bears becoming favourites already! Luckily the kids are too young to understand about buying extra stuff at the minute, but I’m not… *flexes credit card gleefully*

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  7. Yeah it was a brilliant experience. I think if Daniel had been a few months older he would have enjoyed it even more. Ah well, we’ll just have to go back, won’t we? 😉

    Thanks Alison 🙂

  8. When we first arrived in the UK with the kids we took our (then) eight year old to Build a Bear. She had a fab time and the bear she made was a lovely welcome buddy to her new home.

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