Build-A-Bear Workshop has gone high-tech. The company has debuted a new store design that combines its signature hands-on bear-making experience with innovative technology that’s right in line with today’s digitally savvy kids. The new format, which premiered in Build-A-Bear Workshop’s renovated location at West County Center, St. Louis, also provides more interactive options to keep shoppers coming back.
Two years in the making, the new store design is the first significant overhaul of Build-A-Bear Workshop’s store environment since the chain was launched 15 years ago.
“Since our inception, over 100 million stuffed animals have been made in our stores,” said Maxine Clark, founder and CEO, Build-A-Bear Workshop. “With this new store design, we have combined the love of a teddy bear with the best of digital technology.”
The changes start on the facade, which now features a large digital sign. Using Microsoft’s Kinect technology and interactive touch elements, shoppers can play games on the screen by waving their hands.
The brand’s signature stuffed animal-making experience remains the core of the store experience. But the overall environment has been updated with a host of new high-tech stations that increase hands-on engagement. The space also now sports audio "zones" so that sounds can be targeted to specific parts of the store.
The new options include increased further personalization at the “Hear Me” station, where shoppers, using an interactive touch screen supplied by Canvys, can now select and load popular hits from current music or sounds onto a chip plus record their own voice to personalize their stuffed animal. And at the “Fluff Me” station, shoppers can play with their new pets at a “water rippling and splashing” digital bath tub that is enabled by Samsung’s SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense technology. The tub recognizes the items as they are placed on it and reacts with sensory effects such as virtual bubbles that appear when play soap is placed on the “water surface.”
In another new element, scents, ranging from chocolate chip to bubble gum to cotton candy, can be embedded in the stuffed animal.
The company plans to roll out the new environment in five additional locations (in both new and existing locations) by November, including Stoneridge Shopping Center, Pleasanton, Calif.; Annapolis Shopping Mall, Annapolis, Md.; The Somerset Collection; Troy, Mich.; and Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax, Va.
Working with Build-A-Bear Workshop on the concept were Adrienne Weiss Corp.; Oei Design, Epoch Design Group, and Studio Productions. The company also partnered with Microsoft Corp., Samsung Electronics America, Infusion, Nanonation, Epicor Software, Parametric Sound Corporation, and Canvys -- Visual Technology Solutions.