Northern Ireland news

Belfast Build-A-Bear closes as 'pay your age' day leads to 'extreme' crowds

Build-A-Bear closed as hundreds queued up for their one-off promotion. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE Build-A-Bear toy shop in Belfast's Victoria Square has been forced to close its doors after "extreme" crowds turned up at the store to take advantage of a promotion.

The retailer said there had been an "unprecedented" response to the promotion in which customers pay the age of the child they are accompanying for one of a range of stuffed toys, which normally cost around £20.

Hundreds queued up for the promotion amid reports of staff being assaulted at the shop, leading to management taking the decision to close the store for the day.

In a statement, Build-A-Bear said the safety of customers was their "top priority"  and the response to the promotion had exceeded expectation at stores around the UK.

The statement said: "We understand our guests are disappointed, and we are working to address the situation. We will reach out directly to our valued guests as soon as possible."

Customers who attempted to take advantage of the offer took to social media to report that staff were advising them that they could have to queue for hours.

Build-A-Bear warned yesterday that it was anticipating long lines and waiting times, adding that it would "make every effort to help as many guests as possible participate in this first-time event".

Police confirmed they had attended the Build-A-Bear store to "maintain order" but no offences were detected.

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