She’s the Oprah Winfrey of the retail industry—compassionate, creative and charismatic. Maxine Clark, 58, founder and CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop, charmed consumers and wowed Wall Street with a concept that set a new template for interactive experiential retailing. She also de?ed the odds, growing her business, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in October and now numbers more than 300 locations, while other, bigger-brand toy stores languished or faded from the scene.
Clark is a feisty, seasoned ex-May Department Stores veteran who doesn’t let one detail get by her. And she doesn’t let any grass grow under her feet. Following her signature bears, Clark brought dolls and dinosaurs to her make-your-own retail world with the launch of two spin-off formats, friends2Bmade and, more recently, Build-A-Dino.
Her success has not gone unnoticed. In fact, it’s been the inspiration for numerous imitators; Clark herself is a majority investor and key driver behind the launch of Ridemakerz, a toy-car customizing experience.