CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Build-A-Bear Workshop's Pay Your Age Day event, where children could pay the same amount of money for a cuddly friend as their own age, saw lines closed by the company on Thursday.

  • Build-A-Bear sale had overwhelming response
  • Lines were closed for crowd, safety concerns
  • Vouchers made available for eligible customers

"Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our U.S. Build-A-Bear Workshop locations due to crowd and safety concerns," the company stated on its website. "We have closed lines in our U.S. stores. We understand some of our Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible."

What was supposed to be the "biggest in-store deal ever" for Bonus Club members got a little too big as the chain had to close lines at its U.S. stores.

The concept of Pay Your Age Day was simple: Parents or guardians registered with the store's Bonus Club would pay the same price of their child's stuffed animal as their age. For example, if a 5-year-old girl wanted a teddy bear, her parents would pay $5.

A lesson in patience?

In Clearwater, Jeannie Ares brought her 2-and-a-half year old granddaughter Emily Grace to the Build-a-Bear Workshop in the Countryside Mall to take advantage of the offer, and ran into the crowds so many others hit all across the country.

"It's been busy, exhausting," Ares said.

The scene was almost identical at the store location in Wesley Chapel -- parents packed up their kids and flocked to malls to take part in the promotion and save a little money.

"The price, it's well worth it," said parent Nicole Glazier. "Gets them to do something special and enjoy this day and they get to learn patience and waiting in line all day, right?"

In some cases, the children were reportedly better behaved than the parents. There were a number of complaints about people trying to cut in lines.

"We would have liked it to have been more organized, and we would have liked Build-a-Bear to have had more security for everyone," said Ares.

Parent Elard Andrews said he and his daughter were making the best of the experience.

"I met a lot of nice people already standing in line, so you know, we're just communicating back and forth," Andrews said. "You kind of made friends, so it's all good."

After seven hours of waiting, Ares and her granddaughter left with a new furry friend.

"Look at how happy they are," Ares said. "They're tired and they're hungry, but they're happy."

Kids will still get their bears

Because the company saw a huge influx of children and their guardians and parents, it was forced to closed lines. A message posted on their website Thursday read "We could not have predicted this reaction to our 'Pay Your Age Day' event."

For those customers who were shut out of line, Build-a-Bear distributed $15 vouchers at some stores to be redeemed for future purchases.

The company also said it will still honor the deal for all Bonus Club members who log onto the company's website by midnight on July 15. Those members can print out a voucher for a future purchase, redeemable at stores through Aug. 31, 2018.

"It is our sincere desire for all of our guests to enjoy the best Build-A-Bear experience possible," Build-A-Bear said on its website. "As such, our goal with the voucher extension is to enable us to better flow traffic to the stores over the next several weeks to avoid long lines and wait times as much as possible."

More details can be found on the Build-A-Bear website.