If you (or someone in your household) shed a tear when the massive Build-A-Bear Workshop left its Empire State Building location in 2015, we have good news for you. The make-your-own-stuffie chain has returned to Herald Square in a new, smaller but just as technicolor and festive storefront on 34th Street just steps from Macy’s. We dropped by on opening day; here’s our report!
photo: Build-a-Bear Workshop
Same concept, new design
If you’re familiar with the Build-a-Bear experience, know that the process at the new Herald Square store remains the same. What’s new is the look of the store, which features a fresh logo, colors and an overall brighter interior (part of an overall brand update) and some special NYC signage and graphics.
The new store also features a Build-A-Bear “stuffer” prominently placed in the store’s center, an “Inspiration Wall” displaying different trends and fashions tied to pop culture, giving guests creative ideas for making each furry friend their own.
photo: Build-a-Bear Workshop
How to Build-a-Bear (or My Little Pony, or Darth Vadar, etc.)
If you’re not familiar with Build-A-Bear, boy, are you in for an experience.
Creating your own stuffed pal is a somewhat ritualized, and multi-staged process.
First, guests choose their “bear”, which could be a basic, classic teddy bear ($12), or a mini Kylo Ren bear, Princess Poppy, Elmo or Cookie Monster, a My Little Pony, a Frozen-inspired bear, etc., etc. The options are displayed in bins, their solid heads attached to a “skin” yet to be stuffed. Build-a-Bear also creates its own franchise of characters, such as the “Honey Girls” and Promise Pets” with new ones released on a rolling basis.
After selecting a doll to be stuffed, visitors can choose from a variety of extras, such as adding a heartbeat (a small red, plastic heart that beats a few times when squeezed/hugged) for $6; a sound (a clip of a song from Frozen, a Chewbacca roar, belching, or even a personal message that can be recorded on site) for $4-8, or even a scent, such as lavender, berry and beyond for $3.50).
Ceremony, Stuff & Sew
Once you’ve got all your elements together, it’s to the giant stuffer, which looks sort of like a giant gumball machine, but is filled with swirling stuffing that gets pumped into your skin of choice.
Build-a-Bear Workshop employees guide new stuffie parents through a ceremony to help make their creation come alive (give it love, make it smile, jump up and down, etc.), with the help of small hearts that are sewn in side the animals.
Once the final stitches have been made, it’s time to go shopping! (Every stuffed creature needs the proper attire of course.)
The options feel endless, and range from New York City-themed duds (Statue of Liberty, sports teams, etc.) to superheroes, to all things rainbow and glitter. You can accessorize your bear to the hilt, with rollerskates, yoga mats, all kinds of shoes, etc.)
Make it Official
Finally, once a bear is properly accessorized, proud new parents can name and register their creation in the Build-a-Bear Workshop database, and receive a birth certificate to take home. (This process also enrolls users in a Build-a-Bear points program, which enables users to earn points towards free products.)
Celebrate at Build-a-Bear Workshop
Naturally, you can celebrate a birthday at Build-a-Bear. The herald square store has an area in the back for birthday parties, but it’s not a private room. The real fun, of course, is making and dressing your new fuzzy friend, with all your friends.
22 W. 34th St. (between 5th and 6th)
Will you be visiting the new Build-a-Bear Workshop? Tell us in the comments!
— Mimi O’Connor