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Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. is an American retailer headquartered in Overland, Missouri, that sells teddy bears and other stuffed animals and characters. Customers go through an interactive process in which the stuffed animal of their choice is assembled and tailored to their own preferences during their visit to the store. Build-A-Bear Workshop is the largest chain that operates in this style. The company has been acclaimed for the quality of its working environment, especially for teenagers who are just starting their first jobs. The company's slogan was "Where Best Friends Are Made" from 1997-2013, when it was changed to "The Most Fun You'll Ever Make".  As of April 2019, the company's president/CEO is Sharon Price John.
|Traded as||NYSE: BBW|
Russell Microcap Index component
|Founded||October 26, 1997|
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Headquarters||Overland, Missouri, U.S.|
|Sharon Price John (President, CEO)|
|Products||Stuffed toys |
|Revenue||US$358 million (2017)|
Number of employees
In 1996, Maxine Clark quit her job as president of Payless ShoeSource to start her own retail stores with interactive experience like she recalled from her childhood of various events held at department stores. She went to toy factories and children's retail stores looking for ideas. She drew up three plans then presented them to a panel of children. The build-a-bear concept was select from the three as the panel was excited about it and stuffed animals' high profit margin. Build a doll shops, Build-A-Doll, was also a part of the original business plan.
Build-A-Bear was founded by Clark in 1997. Adrienne Weiss Co. of Los Angeles was hired to develop the concept. Clark want to expand the store into a chain from the beginning, expecting to open three to five stores in 1998 and six to ten stores in 1999 to have 100 stores within five years.  She opened the first store in the Saint Louis Galleria in St. Louis, Missouri. The first years sales at $377,600 were above projections.
With store opening cost of $500,000 to $700,000 and estimated per store sales at $2 million, Clark easily found capital firms to invest for the expansions. Kansas City Equity Partners invested to allow her to open its second store in August 1998 in Overland Park, Kansas. Windsor Capital injected $4.5 million into the company which allowed for two Chicago area stores to be opened. With the four stores opened in 1998, the chain had $3.3 million in sales.
Build-A-Bear continued to impressed investors with Walnut Capital Partners investing in 1999 $5 million for expansion. The expansion consisted of stores opened in major cities to bring the chain to 14 stores. The stores were doubling the national mall averages of $350 sales per square foot.
Clark took the company public in 2004.
A few Build-A-Bear Workshop locations began testing the a make-your-own-doll concept in early 2004. In November 2004, Clark opened the first Friends 2B Made, instead of Build-A-Doll, store with this concept in Robinson near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania followed by a location in Columbus, Ohio on November 19, 2004. This as existing mass doll makers had slipping sales and a number of speciality doll makers entered the market, eToys' My Twinn, Mattel's American Girl,  By October 2006, there were 9 Friends 2B Made stores in operation. By September 31 2009, when they were all shuttered and/or converted into expanded Build-A-Bear outlets with their staff offered jobs at Bear locations. Also, the friends 2B made products display fixtures were removed from about 50 workshop locations.
A Build-A-Bear Workshop video game was developed by The Game Factory and released for the Nintendo DS platform for Christmas 2007. A Build-A-Bear game for the Nintendo Wii, subtitled A Friend Fur All Seasons, was released in fall 2008.
In 2010, in honor of the Sanrio company's fiftieth anniversary, Build-A-Bear released limited edition Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty, Chococat, My Melody, and Keroppi. This included the release of mini-keychains of the four characters along with Deery Lou.
Build-A-Bear released a feature film, available on the iPad through MoPix, in December 2011. Cepia, LLC settled a patent and copyright infringement lawsuit over a color-changing bear against BAB in 2013. Also in 2013, founder Maxine Clark retired as CEO and Sharon Price John took over the position. In 2015, Build-A-Bear was sued for discriminating against blind people for lack of accessible point-of-sale machines in their shops.
On July 12, 2018, Build-A-Bear held an event in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada where patrons could pay their child’s age for a bear. The relatively low price of the stuffed bears for younger children attracted massive numbers of people, overwhelming the franchise's stores as well as many shopping malls in which Build-A-Bear franchises were located. The event prompted a surge in public awareness of the Build-A-Bear brand, according to a subsequent YouGov poll, nearly all of which was negative. Sharon Price John, president and CEO, apologized; the company stated that those who had waited in line would receive vouchers.
During the 2018 holiday season, Build-A-Bear opened six pop-up pilot shops in Walmart stores. The success of the pilot led to the expansion of Build-A-Bear into a further 25 Walmart locations in 2019.
The company launched a streaming radio station in October 2018. Build-A-Bear Workshop teamed up with Warner Music Group's Arts Music and Warner Chappell Music in July 2019 to partner on a Build-A-Bear music label with Patrick Hughes and Harvey Russell on board to guide the label.
With an announcement of having secured a deal with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions in an August 2019 second quarter earnings report, Build-A-Bear indicated that the company was starting up its own production entity, Build-A-Bear Entertainment. The first planned movie is to be a The Honey Girls movie, which releases songs and music videos on its YouTube channel. CEO Price John also indicated two holiday movies are in development for the Hallmark Channel with the first to be broadcast winter 2019.
Beyond the built bears, the store carried other merchandise, "Bearaphenalia", to encourage repeat business. These items included candy, greeting cards, jewelry, stationery, stickers, and t-shirts. Also, the stores had photo booth that allow the pictures to be made into stickers.
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