Trying to make people smile is part of the credo at Build-A-Bear Workshop. The company was founded in 1997 by Maxine Clark who is the Chairman and Chief Executive. Maxine started Build-A-Bear Workshop or BBW, after working in corporate America for 20 years for the retailing industry. She wanted to create a retail environment that inspired the imagination, creativity, and memories for children and families. Flash forward to 2012 and BBW has become the only global company that offers customers the opportunity to create their own stuffed animals in a retail environment. BBW offers an exciting in store experience, coupled with top notch customer service and high quality products. BBW is the dominant company in the industry and has cornered the market. The industry for stuffed animals is already saturated and there isn’t a demand to cause the market to experience any significant growth from where it is present day. The threat of competition is very low since BBW is so unique with it’s in store experience. The entire process of being able to choose, and create an original furry friend is something that’s difficult to replicate. BBW has 346 company owned stores and 62 franchised retail stores worldwide with a yearly revenue of $468 million. In the third quarter of 2011, BBW reported a net retail sales rise of 3.1% and their e-commerce sales increase a whopping 20.3%.
Customers that visit the store enjoy a special atmosphere while walking through each phase of the specific Build-A-Bear Workshop process. There are eight animal making work stations to complete the stuffed animal making process. These work stations are all part of the BBW branding that provides customers their own personal experience to create an original stuffed animal. The process starts off with choosing your stuffed animal, then choosing a recording you want the bear to say, followed by the stuffing, stitching, and fluffing. The customer then gets to pick out an outfit to dress the animal in and go to a special Build-A-Bear computer and name it. Finally, the customer can take the personalized stuffed furry friend home. This experience is something that no other competitor offers in the market. This company is the first to offer global retail store locations as well a virtual world experience so customers can continue their fun when they get home. The website is called Bearville.com where the customer brings their new furry friend to life. As stated by the Build-A-Bear corporate website, (2012) “Bearville.com was expanded beyond its virtual world experience into an entertainment destination with a special focus on fun and relevant cultural content for children and families” (sect. Virtual World). Build-A-Bear expanded this website by adding games, shows, a blog, and celebrity interviews. BBW also offers their official award winning website www.BuildABear.com. On the site their guests can purchase customized stuffed animals, and book a BBW birthday party online. For every party held in a BBW, the company gives St. Jude patients a celebration gift package containing a card from the party guests and a $10 gift card.
BBW employs 1200 full time employees and 4800 part time employees worldwide. The world Bearquarters is located in St. Louis Missouri hosting over 100 Associates who all have titles like Bearitory Leader, Honey Manager, and Professor of Bearology. The company’s operations team resides at Bearquarters as well with their Chief Workshop Bear, Chief Information Bear, Chief Financial Bear, Chief Marketing Bear and Chief Operating Bear. The founder, Maxine Clark, is referred to as Chief Executive Bear, or Mama Bear. Maxine Clark doesn’t want her company to be so focused on titles. She wants their titles to be fun and doesn’t mind being called the Mama Bear.
The Build-A-Bear Workshop operations team is focused on giving their loyal customer base a unique and exciting experience,...
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