Marketing 50

Build-A-Bear Workshop

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Assembling a customized teddy bear might not seem on par with a weekend getaway, but that's the way Teresa Kroll, "chief marketing bear" at Build-A-Bear Workshop, sees it.

"We are a destination," Ms. Kroll told Advertising Age last year. The store experience provides a "vacation moment" and "you don't have to drive very far."

Build-A-Bear has led a movement to bring life to America's malls. The workshops, founded in 1997 by CEO Maxine Clark, offer customers selections of empty cloth bear bodies, which customers stuff, dress and name on a birth certificate. Under Ms. Kroll, 50, Build-A-Bear's tactical marketing moves include the sale of bear clothing to match outfits at young teen girl shop Limited Too, and an alliance with Hasbro.

Eric Beder, senior VP-retail analyst, JB Hanauer & Co., says the company has helped liven up malls. Going forward, Build-A-Bear needs to keep customers interested, he says. "They've managed to make that happen" by adding new bears and toys, and marketing the store as a place to go for holidays.

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