Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Build-a-Bear Workshop

By Christina VanGinkel

What could be more special to children than their very own stuffed furry friend could? How about one they stuff and make all by themselves! The Build a Bear concept is such a great way for kids to experience the hobby of crafting, that the first time I heard about them, I wondered why somebody had not thought this notion up a long time ago.

The best part of the whole idea is that you are not limited to just teddy bears either. They have all sorts of amazingly fun critters to make. Just browsing their website, I cam across traditional teddy bears, rabbits, a giraffe, a koala bear, Fuzzy Chick, Floppy Gator, White Tiger, a wide assortment of dogs, Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, Kitty Cats, and even Frosty the Snowman.

The Build a Bear concept is for all ages too, though I believe it was originally intended for children. So wide reaching across the ages has it become, that they even offer a corporate option, referred to as CorBearAte Sales. They will design custom animals or clothing in honor of your company, and have a Build a Sound chip that you can record on to and place inside of your creations to deliver a personal message to your employees, or to whomever the stuffed animals are given to. They make great incentives for workers, and for those companies looking for some fun outlets for their employees to relax with, this could be just the thing to bring some smiles and laughter to an otherwise stress filled office staff! I know one company that was looking for a way for their employees to feel like they really had a hand in some gifts that they wanted to donate to a local charity. The employees attended a Build a Bear workshop, where they each created their own bear. The bears were then auctioned off and the proceeds were donated to the charity in need.

Build a Bear workshops are also great for hosting a child's birthday party at. Each guest will go home with a stuffed friend and memories to last a lifetime. How many birthday parties can promise you that? What else is so great about the Build a Bear concept is that they do not just stop with the making of the animals, but they go on to offer all sorts of personalized items to continue the fun. You can outfit your new furry friends with everything from camping gear, to their own cell phones and Paw Track players. If your furry friend is into being a styling animal, you can outfit them with as stylish a wig as you can imagine, and include all the grooming gear to go along with it, so that their wigs are always coifed just perfectly! If all of this were not enough choices, they also offer a full line of various styled clothing options, including seasonal options, outerwear, internationally flavored outfits, NFL wear, MLB outfits, NBA uniforms, and costumes such as Spiderman, Batman, and the Wizard of OZ. You can dress your stuffed friend up to look like a hula dancer or the king of your own private land, a ballerina, a Viking, a race car driver, or even a magician. There are so many choices for clothing options, that if you or your child can think of it, chances are you will be able to dress up your new friend in an outfit to match.
If your furry friend is going to have a place of honor at home, they also offer furniture sized just for them, including a chair, love seat, and bed. In addition, for the budding crafter themselves, the Build a Bear Workshop has even come up with a full line of scrapbook supplies to help your child create a lasting memory of their brand new friend. They have an 8" x 8" scrapbook album, a princess scrapbook kit, a Beary Basics scrapbook kit, Birthday scrapbook kit, a Best Friends scrapbook kit, and more. With all of these choices, you are sure to find the perfect set to help your child scrap the very ideas and memories that they want. If your child would rather keep a diary about their bear, and have room for some other important ideas, then they can always choose the Fuzzy Diary and Pen Set instead of or in addition to the Scrapbook kits.

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