Retailer’s Response To Grieving Mom Infuriates Loyal Customers


Parents are always looking for special experiences for their children, but the expense of participating in some activities can be cost-prohibitive.

In order to draw in customers and build a good rapport with them so they’ll return, many retailers offer special promotions for parents.

But one store is receiving backlash for something it did in regard to its most popular promotion – and many customers are vowing never to return.

Last year, Build-a-Bear Workshop released an amazing offer.  Parents could bring their children into the store on their birthday and only pay the age of the child.

For example, a 3-year-old could create a special stuffed friend for only three dollars.  But there was a problem.

The offer was so popular that stores could not handle the demand, creating long lines and disappointed parents and children.

To help remedy the situation for this year’s promotion, Build-a-Bear issued a system in which parents could enter for a chance to win a ticket that would allow them to visit the store at a set time and receive the pay-your-age offer.

Ashley Guevara, a mom in North Carolina, was thrilled when she was notified that she was the recipient of one of the coveted tickets, good for both of her young daughters to build their own creation.

It was even more special because Guevara’s 6-month-old daughter, Dahlia, was set to be released from the hospital after being treated for a genetic illness.

But in a tragic twist, baby Dahlia passed away right before the date of their Build-a-Bear experience.

While grieving, Guevara contacted Build-a-Bear to see if she could still use the ticket to build a bear in her daughter’s honor.

Many parents who have lost children keep a special stuffed animal or other memento.  They use it as a symbol of the child’s impact when posing for family photos or keep it in a place of honor during family events.  Guevara thought a custom bear could be a concrete reminder of her daughter.  

Build-a-Bear said no.

Not only did they refuse to honor the ticket, they issued a shocking and tasteless response to Guevara.

“Thank you for reaching out and for being our Guest. We are so sorry for your loss.  This is designed to be an in-store experience for our Guests. Therefore, the Guest must be present to pay their age. Our thoughts are with you and we are sending Bear Hugs your way,” according to the News and Observer.

Guevara couldn’t believe it, going so far as to say that she felt like the company expected her to dig her daughter out of the grave and bring her to the store.  

Calling her baby “the Guest” was completely inappropriate – and their “Bear Hugs” were condescending at best.

Guevara did what many outraged parents do – she took to social media to express her heartbreak and disgust.

The backlash was immediate as unforgiving customers expressed their shock and anger.  Many commented that they will not visit the retailer with their children again.

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Build-a-Bear decided to backpedal and try to do damage control by issuing an apology and offering to honor Guevara’s daughter with a “special, complimentary” visit to create a memory bear.

But for many consumers, it is too little, too late.

While Guevara plans to take the company up on its offer in order to help ease her suffering, other parents know that nothing will ever erase their original cold-hearted response.

It is unclear what impact their original refusal will have on business, or if consumers will take into consideration the amends they tried to make after the fact.

One thing is clear:  The story has gone viral and parents are disgusted.  

Every effort should have been made to ease this mother’s grief in any way possible, and their initial refusal has left a bad taste in the mouths of former Build-a-Bear shoppers.

What do you think of Build-a-Bear’s response to this grieving mom?  Do you think it was too little, too late?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments.