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Frequently Asked Questions
How does Build-A-Bear Workshop® support the community?
Build-A-Bear Workshop and its foundations have focused charitable efforts in our communities on causes that matter most to our Guests and their families, especially those causes that benefit children. We have several stuffed animals --Champ-- A Champion Fur Kids™, Bearemy's Kennel Pals® friends, and Read Teddy® - that are associated with causes that support children's health and wellness, animal welfare, literacy, and education. Whenever a Guest buys one of these lovable furry friends, we make a donation to that cause.
How can I request a donation from Build-A-Bear Workshop?
Build-A-Bear Workshop is happy to review requests for charitable donations for schools and other 501(c)(3) charities that help children and their families, animals, and the environment.
All requests must be submitted online via the donation request form which can be found at www.buildabear.com by visiting the Community Involvement page and clicking on Furbulous Donations.
To find out more about our grant process go to www.buildabear.com, click on our Community Involvement Page and then click on Grants for Pawesome Causes.
Where did Maxine Clark come up with the idea for Build-A-Bear Workshop?
The 'light bulb' went off for Maxine when she was shopping with her friend Katie, who at the time was 10-years-old. It was during the height of the Beanie Baby® craze, and Katie was frustrated at not being able to find the one she wanted. Katie suggested making them. While she meant starting a craft project, but Maxine heard something much bigger.
The Build-A-Bear Workshop concept was born from Maxine's desire to reinvent retailing for the 21st century. The idea was really a culmination of her years of retail experience and a desire to bring the fun back to shopping the way Maxine remembered it when she was a child.
When did Build-A-Bear Workshop open?
The first Build-A-Bear Workshop store opened in October 1997 at the Saint Louis Galleria in St. Louis, Missouri.
What makes your brand unique?
It's the experience! We offer an experience and a new best friend, not just a stuffed animal. We like to believe that Guests who visit Build-A-Bear Workshop stores are really getting their stuffed animals for free and are paying for the experience. Our highly visual and colorful stores feature a teddy bear theme, displays of numerous, fully-dressed stuffed animals and our Bearisms® such as, "A hug is worth a thousand words" and "Be the bearer of good news" decorate the walls of our stores.
Build-A-Bear Workshop is the only company that offers an interactive make your own stuffed animal retail-entertainment experience.
Our Guests are passionate about and feel ownership of our brand. At Build-A-Bear Workshop, our Guests are the heart of our business. They inspire us, they challenge us and they make us smile. Our consumer-centric focus is what makes us the company we are today: innovative, curious, successful and growing. Our Guests have come to expect a personal and fun experience every time they shop in our stores and they won't settle for anything less. We wouldn't have it any other way.
How did Maxine Clark build her company into the global operation it is today?
Early in her retail career, Stanley Goodman, then CEO of the May Department Stores, said to Maxine, "Retailing is entertainment and the store is a stage and when the customer has fun, they spend more money." This has been a guiding principle throughout her retail career and as she has built Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Maxine feels that she has been fortunate to work with some of the best people in retail and she has applied the lessons she has learned from them to her business.
A few of them are:
Always maintain your passion for serving the Guest.
Be able to articulate your vision so that people can embrace and partner with you to help bring your idea to life.
Partner with your suppliers to be sure that they are tuned into the business objectives and can grow and support your efforts.
Have the ability to challenge conventional thinking and think outside the box in all aspects of the business.
Be able to learn from mistakes and move on - not all products are hits and it's important to keep pushing the envelope to come up with the newest and freshest merchandise.
Support an organization that will drive hard to make great ideas happen and turn them into sales by implementing through resourcefulness and tenacity.
What's the most popular animal?
Each furry friend is someone's favorite because Build-A-Bear Workshop offers endless possibilities for personalization.
The Build-A-Bear Workshop process allows Guests to make a furry friend that is special and unique.
At Choose Me, Guests are introduced to all the furry characters in the store and then select one, which soon becomes their new friend. There are more than 30 varieties of stuffed animals including teddy bears, bunnies, dogs, kitties and more. Build-A-Bear Workshop stuffed animals are very affordable, ranging in price from $10-$25.
At Hear Me, Guests may select from several sound choices to place inside their stuffed animal to further personalize their new friend.
At Stuff Me, with the help of master Bear Builder® associates, Guests fill their new friend with stuffing for just the right amount of huggability.
At Stitch Me, the last seam is neatly pulled shut, nearly completing each new best friend.
At Fluff Me, the Guest brushes the animal to make sure his or her new friend is well groomed and perfectly huggable.
At Dress Me, Guests may dress their new friend in the large variety of the beary latest furry fashions.
At the Name Me computer Guests answer several questions about their new furry friend, including the birth date and of course, its special name.
At the Take Me Home station, Guests receive their customized birth certificate and a Stuff Fur Stuff® club membership, a rewards program for our Guests. Each new furry friend is then placed in their very own Cub Condo™ carrying case, which is designed as a handy travel carrier and new home.
Maxine grew up in Coral Gables, Florida and attended the University of Georgia
What advice would Maxine Clark give to a young person looking to create their own business?
Find your passion and get as much experience in the business world as you can, preferably in the field you are interested in. Ask questions, do whatever it takes to understand the workings of the business.
Put your business plans in writing; it's important to write your dreams down on paper. This will help you determine exactly what needs to be done in order to turn your dream into a business. A good business plan also assists you in determining the possible challenges and obstacles.
When creating your business from scratch, let all of the good and bad experiences you've encountered shape how you decide to do things.
Allow yourself to dream and dream big, and have the ability to challenge conventional thinking and think outside the box in all aspects of the business.
How did Maxine learn so much about the business world?
Even as a young girl, Maxine had a passion for retail. She loved window shopping and all of the beautiful displays in the mall. When Maxine graduated from the University of Georgia in 1971, she took a job as a retail trainee with The May Department Stores Company in Washington, D.C. Maxine spent over 19 years in various divisions of The May Department Stores Company in areas including merchandise development, merchandise planning, merchandise research, marketing and product development. Prior to founding Build-A-Bear Workshop, Maxine was the President of Payless ShoeSource, Inc. from 1992 until 1996.
Did Maxine feel like she was taking a big risk when she started Build-A-Bear Workshop?
When Maxine first shared her idea for the company with others there were skeptics who told her what she shouldn't do. Maxine listened politely, but she didn't let their "don'ts" stop her from creating what she knew could be a successful business. And, while Maxine knew there would be risks, she took all the experiences that she had gained in her years in the retail business and she applied them to Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Build-A-Bear Workshop is a true example of how a small business can grow and prosper. We opened our first store at the Saint Louis Galleria in Oct. 1997; at that time we had just a handful of employees and a very small office location. But we had a business plan, strong initial success at the Saint Louis Galleria, and many 'partners' - partners who wanted to invest in our business and partners who could provide services to us.
Most small businesses need 'partners' to help them fill in the gaps and support their growth. At Build-A-Bear Workshop, we not only found a wealth of support through partnerships, but also found these relationships to be long lasting.
We've grown today to be a global company with stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Mexico and South America. Many of our early partners have grown with us over the years and remain important to our future growth.
What experiences led Maxine to become an entrepreneur?
After years of experience with The May Department Stores, Maxine had the experience, know how, contacts and financial wherewithal to develop the business plan for Build-A-Bear Workshop. She had vast experience in product development, sourcing and marketing and these were exactly the skills she needed to start her company. Maxine also had years of contacts with suppliers and people, many of which have become the backbone of our company. Maxine feels that one of her strengths is that she knows what she doesn't know and has hired people to fill those needed areas. It does take a village to raise a bear! Maxine feels she has had the benefit of working with many very creative and smart people who have helped bring the idea of Build-A-Bear Workshop to reality.
Has Maxine met any challenges being a woman in the business world?
Maxine believes that the qualities that it takes to be successful are not based on gender. Having solid business relationships and being able to share ideas are great traits of business people.
What advice does Maxine Clark have for aspiring leaders?
Allow yourself to dream and dream big, and have the ability to challenge conventional thinking and think outside the box in all aspects of the business.
View challenges as opportunities to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Never discount the power of a positive attitude.
Start by believing you can truly achieve whatever you set your mind to.
Don't let outside forces limit your potential. You alone are responsible for creating your own success.
Contribute to your community and help others wherever you can. Maxine learned very early on that it's not how much money you make that defines your success, but rather what impact you have on the world; and the people who are in your world. She believes it's important for companies to have a heart.
I know Build-A-Bear Workshop contributes to many good causes. How does Build-A-Bear Workshop choose causes to support?
Build-A-Bear Workshop believes in the teddy bear philosophy of being good people and good bears. Throughout its history the company has given Guests a voice to support causes that are important to them, helping children, families, animals and the environment.
Stuffed with Hugs®, a charitable program of Build-A-Bear Workshop, is now in its eleventh year of helping kids in need around the world by providing teddy bears to children's causes. Stuffed with Hugs was created to give children the chance to help others. Since Stuffed with Hugs began in 2001, more than 325,000 teddy bears have been made and donated to children in need of a hug. Stuffed with Hugs partners have included adoption agencies, children's hospitals, firefighters and police officers, the USO, UNICEF, Ronald McDonald House and other worthy organizations.
Build-A-Bear Workshop launched the Huggable Heroes® program in 2004 as a way to recognize and honor young people that have impacted their communities and the world. It is a program that empowers and inspires children to get involved as Build-A-Bear Workshop believes that young people can establish change in their communities. At the beginning of each year, Guests are invited to nominate a young person they know that is making a difference and helping others. Those selected as Huggable Heroes receive a $7,500 educational scholarship, a $2,500 charity donation and a trip to the Build-A-Bear Workshop World Bearquarters.
Build-A-Bear Workshop also provides financial support for non-profit organizations throughout the country through grants from our corporate foundations. The foundations believe in extending a helping paw to programs in the areas of children's health and wellness, literacy and education, the preservation of endangered animals and their habitats, domestic animal shelters, disaster relief programs and environmental concerns.
The Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation is funded through pin pad donations taken at registers and by the sale of purple satin hearts ($1 each) in Canada. It is a public foundation that supports children, families and animals along with associate assistance programs.
The Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation is funded through the sale of special animals in our stores. It is a private foundation that provides grants to children's health and wellness, literacy and domestic pet programs.
In 2006, the company launched Champ - A Champion Fur Kids™ - an adorable teddy bear that helps raise funds for children's health and wellness issues including pediatric cancer, juvenile diabetes and autism. This bear expands on Nikki's Bear which was originally created in 2003 to help children's health and wellness causes.
Children's literacy is a cause the company supports through Read Teddy® by donating a portion of the sale to First Book® a national organization that provides new books to children from low-income families, and other literacy organizations around the country.
A portion of the proceeds from Bearemy's Kennel Pals line of dogs supports domestic pet programs and also provides funding to animals in crisis situations through a quarterly grant process.
Build-A-Bear Workshop is also part of an exciting and innovative partnership with the World Wildlife Fund® (WWF®, offering a series of WWF co-branded plush animals in stores with $1 from the sale of each animal supporting efforts to protect endangered animals and their habitats. Since the partnership began in 2000, Build-A-Bear Workshop has donated over $1 million dollars to WWF.
Is it true that children serve on your Advisory Board and give concepts and input to the organization? How does that work? Do the kids as they grow stay on with the company and move into different roles?
Since the beginning, Build-A-Bear Workshop has had a Cub Advisory Board, which is a group of children who offer their much valued opinions about Build-A-Bear Workshop products and services. Kids have insights and offer inspiration by looking at the world differently. They are a source of wisdom beyond their years.
We are still in contact with many of the original Cub Advisors and continue to value their pawsome feedback.
We also have an expanded the advisory board with the help of the internet. Hundreds of kids give us their input on everything we do including product and store locations and now, Bearville.com.
Why do you think Build-A-Bear Workshop appeals to the public?
The teddy bear is universal and its appeal transcends age and gender- everyone needs the hug of a teddy bear.
What are the future plans for Build-A-Bear Workshop?
We will continue to grow internationally in our company-owned operations and through our franchisees; those already existing and by adding more countries. Our franchisees plan to add another 10-12 stores in 2012. Build-A-Bear Workshop has been in the forefront of international growth and we are putting the support and infrastructure in place to continue this expansion.
How can I obtain financial data information about Build-A-Bear Workshop?
Our annual report and Form 10-K are available at our investor relations website at http://ir.buildabear.com in the financial reports section. Our annual report and 10-K provide detailed information regarding our business operations, growth strategy, marketing, competition, and more. Generally, if the information you need is not included in the annual report and 10-K, then it is information that we do not disclose.
Why do you think the teddy bear can still hold up as a child's favorite toy?
When a Guest makes a furry friend at Build-A-Bear Workshop, they are making something that is theirs alone. The experience is about personal self-expression and creativity and being in a place where it's all right to "just be a kid" again, whether you are three or 103. It's believing that if you put a special wish on a heart that it really can bring a friend to life. It's empowerment, it's accomplishment, it's magic all rolled up into one, and makes a trip to the mall a whole lot more fun than it used to be. We want to provide the "funnest" hour of a family's day.
The teddy bear doesn't just appeal to kids, parents enjoy being in a place where their kids aren't trying to grow up so fast. Parents take pride in their child's sense of accomplishment. Parents enjoy the experience of a visit to Build-A-Bear Workshop vicariously as their child places the heart on their forehead and wishes their new friend to life.
Build-A-Bear Workshop offers an experience rather than simply a product; we make a connection with our Guests that is lasting and contagious.
What is a typical day of Maxine Clark?
Although every day is different, a typical day for Maxine is spent working on our business with both our internal teams and outside partners, and then connecting with our Guests through email, on Facebook, Twitter and in our stores.
How many furry friends have been made at Build-A-Bear Workshop?
Over 100 million furry friends have been made at Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Could you please share some stories about specials Guests?
We like to share stories we receive from our Guests about their experience while making a bear for a special occasion or because of a happy or sometimes sad event that was helped by the extra hug of a teddy bear. These are the moments that memories are made of for our Guests and for us. One such example is about our bear Champ. We created Champ in honor of 14-year-old Nikki Giampolo, who lost her life to cancer in 2002. Nikki's mom and friends shared her story of hope with us and as a result we were inspired to create a bear to help to help raise money for other children with cancer.
This year, we created buildabear.com/stories, a place where Guests can share their stories about Build-A-Bear Workshop. Throughout the year, Guests can log onto the site to check out stories from other Guests, including Victoria Justice and other friends of Build-A-Bear Workshop.