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Line at Galleria Build-a-Bear store

The long line outside the Build-A-Bear store in the St. Louis Galleria mall on Thursday, July 12, 2018, when the store was offering a pay-your-age promotion.  Photo courtesy of Nathan Kromat. 

Build-A-Bear Workshop is reintroducing its “Pay Your Age” sales event, with a new plan in place to prevent the massive crowds that led certain locations to shut down within a few hours last year.

The heavily marketed promotion in 2018 drew thousands of customers, long lines and complaints after some people were turned away empty-handed after stores closed early. 

This time, to avoid similar problems, the Overland-based company has organized a ticketed event. Customers are directed to enter online by 10:59 p.m. Central on June 16 for a chance to receive a ticket that would allow them to pay the same number of dollars as their age for a toy. The minimum price is $1 and the maximum is $29, so customers 29 and older can pay $29.

Last year’s promotion was a one-day event, but this year guests can use their tickets during two possible time frames in the week of June 24 through June 28.

Emily Fuhrman, a Build-A-Bear representative, says the company has taken a number of steps to better manage the guest experience during the promotion, including spreading the event over five days and using a ticketed system.

More than 200,000 individuals worldwide are expected to receive a Pay Your Age ticket.

Build-A-Bear has over 300 stores in North America, and over 450 stores worldwide, including franchise locations, Fuhrman said.

The Build-a-Bear CEO is among the top-paid in St. Louis