Yesterday while we were in town on a little family day out, we thought it would be a good idea to have a look in Build-A-Bear and treat Cabbit to a cuddly. In a way I wish I had asked for a discount as the experience was far from “magical”.
I have only made a Build-A-Bear (bunny) once and that was with my husband. He insisted on treating me, as he knows how much I love bunnies. The member of staff that made my bunny was extremely cheery and happy, and even made me kiss the little heart they put inside her. In short they treated me like I was a child, and I fully encouraged this as I’m a big child at heart and thought this experience was actually very warm and loving. When we went into Build-A-Bear yesterday with our son, we did not receive the same experience.
Now, I know my son is only 8 months old, but that didn’t stop us wanting him to experience making his first Build-A-Bear toy. If he doesn’t remember it, we will. We love doing silly sentimental things like this, for example we all went to Wembley Drum centre the other day to see what Cabbit made of the drums; the result? He loved it! And we have the happy memories to remind us if we are ever having a bad day. But our Build-A-Bear experience…
As we skipped into the shop we realised that they were selling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! It was perfect; we decided to go with Raphael as he is a gorgeous dark green and has a happy face (a little odd as he’s the ‘moody’ turtle my husband keeps reminding me). Some of the others like Donatello had very demonic looking faces or sickly shades of green for their skin. Which I feel would be more than enough to give any child nightmares. As we were doing this I was wondering why the shop was so empty, I could only see one member of staff who asked us if we needed help and quickly ushered us to the stuffing area and palmed us off on another member of staff. There sat a young man who looked like he was in his own personal hell. I couldn’t blame him; the music in Build-A-Bear is deafeningly loud and they were playing songs from the Chipmunk movies. But still, I thought he could slap on a smile as we had our son with us. After he began stuffing Raphael we discovered that he was new and he kept apologizing for being slow. Perfectly acceptable I thought, as I know how hard it can be being new and getting used to how to do your job. This didn’t bother me in the slightest. What bothered me was the female staff that suddenly appeared with friends from outside of work and started doing their make-up in the mirrors and bitching about boyfriends loudly despite the fact there were customers in the shop! They couldn’t have cared less about their jobs. Now, I know how stressful and annoying retail work can be, but I never ever did things like put on make-up or play on my phone while working. It’s just unprofessional. Not to mention outright rude. You are PAID to do a job, so do it! With customer intense roles (especially those that deal more directly with children) like Build-A-Bear you have to be happy and professional. They are offering an experience to children helping them take part in the making of their toy, their best friend as they like to call it. These people did not do this. I don’t know if it would have been different if Cabbit was a bit older (and therefore obviously a bit more engaged with the process), but I doubt it. Besides, even if it was just me and my husband we should still get the same treatment as a child, no matter how embarrassing it is. We experienced it last time, so what’s changed?
After Raphael was stuffed we were handed over to one of the girls who had been doing their make-up who was also half asleep and half-arsed with us. My husband kindly asked if there were any extras we could purchase like Raphael’s weapons. The girl, who obviously wasn’t really paying attention pointed to something non-related and rolled her eyes. So my husband politely corrected her and tried again. She proceeded to “hmmm” and “ahhh” for an eternity until she finally said, with much effort “I suppose I can look in the back for you…” translation “I really couldn’t care less, I really don’t want to look for you” So what did we do? Of course we made her look. This was pointless really as she had no idea what she was looking for and just came back grumpier. We decided to quickly pay and retreat before being disappointed further. However the same girl managed to short-change my husband (who caught her out and requested his correct change) and then spent an inordinate amount of time faffing about ‘attempting’ to open the till, which culminated in her very begrudgingly asking her supervisor for assistance. Luckily for us Cabbit was far more interested in trying to chew his handle bar on the buggy than looking around and enjoying the experience. The only thing that seemed to fascinate him was the machine full of stuffing that kept turning. Oh, and Raphael’s face. Every time he sees him now, he lights up and smiles. Totally cute!
Overall, would I go back to Build-A-Bear Kingston? Maybe. Not sure. I know that I will have to go at one point when Cabbit is old enough but definitely to a different branch. The branch in question is in the Bentall’s Centre, in Kingston-Upon-Thames.
I’m off to kick my husband’s butt at Injustice: Gods Among us. I love Harley Quinn! Finish him! Oh wait that’s Mortal Kombat, oh well same company.