Build-A-Bear Goes Interactive, Smokey Would be Proud

By Jamie Epstein September 27, 2012

Ah Build-A-Bear, the store in malls all over the country that little children flock to and I try to steer clear of at all costs. However, if I was a still youngin’ I would have absolutely adored this shop just like the people who have bought nearly 110 million plush animals from the company since it first opened back in 1997. As technology continues to enter every part of our life, it only makes sense that the stuffed-animal-making-factory would follow and just today it did just that.

“We wanted it to be more of an experience,” said Maxine Clark, the founder and chief executive of Build-A-Bear, in a recent article featured on The New York Times website.

Thus, the organization known for transforming the meaning of buying a kid a simple teddy bear due to the fact that you can actually select the shell of the animal, watch it be brought to life as its filled with stuffing and then pick out all of its accessories to make it your very own, decided to unveil some digital gadgets in newly debuted stores with the goal of entertaining these little ones to an even higher degree and ensuring this will be the first of many trips back to the location.

Clark added that “smartphones and tablets have changed the way children play, so we wanted the stores to stay fun and relevant” which prompted Build-A-Bear to power virtual play. In conjunction with Microsoft’s Kinnect-like solution, newly opened bear-loving locations will boast a large screen at the front so customers can play games by using their various body parts and this strategic move will hopefully drive hands-on engagement amongst the youth group.

According to reports, a one-minute video is scheduled to be launched today that will give excited individuals a firsthand look into some of the new features these stuffed animals can possess including a “love me” touch screen where a child can select a heart for his or her stuffed animal, a customized sound chip and even specific scents such as chocolate chip or cotton candy that can be inserted into the stuffed animal. This would surely help parents who want nothing more than to wash their child’s favorite plaything but are highly afraid of the temper tantrum to follow, even if they are just taking it away for an hour.

The animals are also now presented with both a birth certificate and a bar code that will help people to find a lost or stolen animal, an incident that happens over 500 times a year according to the company.

Some other good news: the stuffed animal provider won’t be raising its prices and the new stores will look very similar to the old. “Kids see our stores and run up to them,” she concluded. “We didn’t want to change that.”

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Austin 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

TechZone360 Web Editor

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