We have walked past the Arndale Build-A-Bear Workshop so many times over the years and I was always curious to pop inside and have a nosey. The timing unfortunately was never right due to Liv’s age and hubby wanted to keep me away so I didn’t add to our already large teddy bear collection.
When given the opportunity to review the Build-A-Bear Workshop in Manchester City Centre, it would have been very rude to refuse!
So off we trundled, on a typical rainy day to the shop and as we edged nearer we found we were greeted by a lovely Build-A-Bear lady pulling what appeared to be a very well stuffed sheep on roller skates. Very bizarre but it certainly caught Liv’s attention! Now Liv loves teddy bears (she certainly takes after her mummy!) and I knew she would enjoy the experience… maybe we should have gone on another day! After being greeted by the lovely and enthusiastic Tom we were taken over to the racks (and racks and racks) of bear “skins”. I cannot tell you exactly how many bears there were to choose from but there must have been in excess of 30 different shapes, sizes and colours on show. Liv unfortunately did not play ball and was very shy in front of Tom, after an arduous 5 minutes we had Liv’s agreement on a lovely pinky coloured bear with a heart for a nose.
The bear skin looked very sad without any filling but we were soon to rectify that but first we had to choose a sound for Liv’s new bear so that it could have a voice. There were plenty of sounds to choose from ranging from songs (inc. The Star Wars theme!), sounds (Monkey and Lion sounds) but we plumped for the 6-in-1 sound box that includes sayings such as “Give Me A Cuddle”, “Let’s Play” and “I Love You”. Then we had to choose where the small sound disk was to be placed (we chose the bear’s arm) and then we moved onto the most exciting part that completely blew Olivia’s mind and certainly captured her attention. The Fluff Machine!!!
Tom asked us if we wanted the bear to be cuddly, or really soft or be able to sit up, we chose for Liv’s new bear to be cuddly. Well all teddy bears should be cuddly! Liv was instructed to step on the little pedal that powers the fluff machine so that he could manoeuvre the bear round and make sure it was filled to the correct fluffiness! I was really amazed at how Liv suddenly changed from being a little monster into being so in awe of this machine that she hung on Tom’s every word. As we watched the fluff being rolled around in the machine, Liv pedalled away and Tom made sure the bear was filled for the ultimate cuddle experience and let us test the bear to make sure.
Once the bear was filled, Liv was then asked to choose a heart for her bear. With 3 fabric options, Liv chose the simple red satin coloured heart and we were all told to kiss the heart so that Liv’s bear would always be loved. The heart was then placed inside the bear but before being sewn up an ID number was also inserted so that in the utterly heartbreaking event of the bear being mis-placed, a quick scan at your local Build-A-Bear Workshop would reveal the details of the bear’s owner.
This is such an amazing feature, I was taken aback by how much thought (and love) goes into making the bears.
At this point we could really see the bear coming to life and the next step was to give her a bath, dry her and brush her. This was a great little section with all fun brushes and dryers available to groom your bear, I was pleased that Liv also loved this section – she has certainly had a lot of practice brushing our cat and dog!
The next stage was the chance to choose an outfit for your bear and with so many to choose from including football kits, pretty dresses and costumes, this would have been a hard choice if we hadn’t already mentioned Liv was a huge Snow White fan. Tom toddled off and brought back a wonderful Snow White outfit and proceeded to help Liv dress her bear. A very strange combination of a pinkish bear wearing a Snow White outfit complete with red hairband, it could only get more bizarre with the addition of gold lace up boots! Yes, your eyes are not playing tricks, I really did say boots! I forgot to mention that there is a vast array of shoes/boots/sandals to choose from to compliment your bears outfit!
Liv’s bear had now come to life, she had a heart, had a voice, had clothes and shoes but what was she missing..? A name!
The penultimate step in Building Your Bear is choosing a name for your bear, if you really are stuck (just like we were!) Tom was on hand with a Build-A-Bear Workshop name booklet with suggestions. We happened to think that Candyfloss was very apt for Liv’s pink bear, and this was entered into a Birth Certificate that includes the bears Date of Birth, Weight, Height, Fur and Eye colours. Also at this stage our details were recorded on the BABW system so that if Liv ever does misplace Candyfloss she will be able to find her way home to us.
The absolute final stage was to give Candyfloss a home, normally all bear would be house in a cardboard carry box which can be coloured in when you get home. As it is Easter BABW are running a wonderful promotion that for every bear over £9.00 purchased they will also give your bear a very cute little egg basket to sit in, complete with handle so that you can also carry your bear around in this. An ingenious idea, especially if the bear is to be given as a present, this is a fantastic little extra.
I really could not fault the attention we received at BABW, Tom was really friendly and knew how to engage Liv in the whole process (even allowing her to help re-fill the fluff machine!). He did deserve a medal for putting up with a very grumpy toddler but he did himself and BABW justice!
We would definitely return in the future when Olivia is older and I picked up details on their parties which with a minimum of 6 children and a minimum budget of £9 per child sounds like a totally unique party idea.
Bears range in price from £9 to £18 (more for specialist Hello Kitty range), clothes from £2 upwards and the sounds are also from £2 up to £5 dependant on which you choose.
The sale den is always something to keep checking for very well priced items to keep your loving friend up to date with a new wardrobe.
The website has an interactive area where your child can log on with their unique code on your bear’s birth certificate which will enable your bear to come to life and develop your child’s imagination and relationship with the bear.
A definite 10/10 from us and I cannot wait to return! My favourite part was watching how involved children can get with the whole process, great for developing their social skills and creative thinking! All the staff were super friendly and we will definitely pop in next time we go into Manchester!
Many thanks to Tom and everyone at Build-A-Bear Workshop for making our first experience a day to remember and thanks also to Shannon for arranging the day for us. All the opinions are my own and the experiences my family had on our trip to Build-A-Bear Workshop.