As soon as you walk into a Build-A-Bear Workshop your inner child leaps out and hits you smack in the face!
All those little outfits just hanging there ready for a cuddly friend to wear makes you want to be 6 years old again! So with my own 6 year old in tow we started our own Build-A-Bear experience.
The staff in the Build-A-Bear WorkshopÂ® meet you with a smile and are more than happy to help you in any way they can, which is quite handy as there are so many decisions to make, a helping hand is always helpful! First we were asked if we have Built-A-Bear in a workshop before, to which we replied yes, but it was a few years ago. Rosie the Rabbit was the result of that visit.
We were taken over to choose our new friends. Now if you thought the decision of what ice-cream to choose in a cafe was hard, multiply it
ten fold!!! There were animals galore - easily over 30 various bears, cats, dogs, monkeys, sheep and a whole load more (including a rather flashy-looking seahorse!) to choose from. What to choose!! Hello Kitty, in various colours was at the very end and I thought that Jaidyn would be heading straight for one of those, but no, her eyes were drawn straight to an adorable calico cat and with eyes wide open she shouted "SMUDGE!!!" Smudge is our own mischievous calico cat, who is as daft as a brush! So Smudge II was going to be coming home with us. I myself opted for a rather cheeky looking little monkey.
Now we had our new friends, it was time to start 'building' them. The next step along the way is the sounds. You don't have to have a sound in your friend, but if you want one, there are a variety of different sounds to choose from. There are buttons to press so you can hear the sound that seems right for your friend - miaows, woofs, roars, laughs, snores and a whole lot more! You can even create your own
message to add to a sound box. We opted for a simple miaow for Smudge and an oo-oo-oo for Cheeky!!
Next we are taken to the stuffing machine and this is where the fun really begins!!! First off our little friends were 'micro-chipped' just like a real pet. Each animal has a unique barcode that is attached to their label. This is removed and put inside them, so that if they are ever lost and someone finds them all that person has to do is return your lost friend to any Build-A-Bear workshop and they will reunite you. Once the 'micro-chip' was put in we chose where we would like the sound box. We were told the best place to have it is in a paw because they can move around a bit if they are put in the tummy which makes it a little harder to press, so Smudge had it put in her front paw and Cheeky had it in a hand. Now it was time to stuff, so after being asked how soft we'd like them to be, the stuffing began.
First was Smudge, Jaidyn got to step on the pedal that started the stuffing and kept her foot on it until Smudge was stuffed just right. Then it was my turn, yes I too stood on the pedal to help stuff my new friend. Next it was time to give them a heart. You can have a
small fabric heart or one that actually beats like a real heart when squeezed. No matter what heart you choose you need to jump start it. So after a lot of rubbing to warm it up, jumping up and down, rubbing it on our ears (to help our friends hear our secrets), rubbing it on our noses, making a wish (quite hard to think of a wish when you're 6!) and kissing it, the heart is pushed inside and finally our cuddly friends were sewn up.
Now it was time to fluff up Smudge and Cheeky so we headed to the shower area where they sat under a large shower head and Jaidyn stepped on another pedal which started the shower. Fortunately it is a shower of air (think hair dryer on cool) otherwise they would have
got rather soggy! A quick brush and fluff up and they were ready to get dressed. If you thought deciding on what animal to choose was hard, think again! That was easy compared to the array of clothes that are available! Smudge and Cheeky sat on the dressing table in front of the mirror while we decided what to dress them in. There are T-shirts, shorts, dresses, skirts, swimsuits, underwear, pyjamas, uniforms, fancy dress outfits......you name it, it's probably there!
Fancy a bear dressed as Woody? A sheep as Buzz Lightyear? A horse as a chef? A doctor? A fire fighter? There are shoes, glasses, hats, jackets, roller-skates, footballs......the list is endless! After a
lot of deliberation and a few outfit changes Smudge was happy in a Rapunzel dress and Cheeky was looking pretty cool in his skull shirt and jeans, with chain for extra coolness. Now that our friends were happy with their outfits we moved onto the computers to fill in some details. We scanned the barcode on their label into the computer, fill in our name and address (in case Smudge or Cheeky decide to get lost) and fill in their birth certificate. The barcode has helped fill in most of their certificate already, their height, weight, fur and eye colour. Their date of birth is automatically set as the day you buy your animal, but you can change that to any date
you want, so they can share your birthday with you if that's what you want. You put in their name and then the name of who it belongs to. Once you are finished filling everything in, their certificates are printed out. Then they are gently packed into their very own travel boxes (which you can colour in) all ready to be taken to their new homes.
You might think that's the end of it, but there's more, because your new friends can come to life online. Bearville is an online community where you can create a character and then using the unique ID number and key code that are printed on the certificates your friend can join you. You have a house and your new friend goes everywhere with you in your backpack! We had a fantastic morning in the workshop, and we can't wait to go back and buy some more outfits, I personally think Cheeky would make a pretty good Darth Vader.....
by Yvonne Holland with lots of help from daughter Jaidyn, age 6 (Yvonne went to the Build-A-Bear WorkshopÂ® in the Silverburn Shooping Centre in Glasgow.) August 14 2012