Build-a-Bear fans spark huge queues at shopping centre

Bear fans waited in queues for hours at a Blackpool shopping centre after a "Build-a-Bear" promotion attracted "unprecedented" crowds .

Hundreds of shoppers flocked to Houndshill Shopping Centre to take advantage of a special "Pay-Your-Age" event on Thursday which promised customers the opportunity to grab a bargain.

Long queues of Build-a-Bear fans hoping to grab a bargain were captured by photographer Grahama Royston at Houndshill PIC: Graham Royston

Long queues of Build-a-Bear fans hoping to grab a bargain were captured by photographer Grahama Royston at Houndshill PIC: Graham Royston

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The event, which offered customers the chance to buy a bear for as little as £1, exceeded the expectations of bosses at Build a Bear who were forced to tell customers to stay away over safety fears.

Photographer Graham Royston captured these scenes at the centre which saw the shoppers with prams and young children snake in an orderly queue around the centre.

He said: "I think every baby and pram is Blackpool is there. I really don’t think they were expecting anywhere near this kinda turnout."

Scott Rich said: "All that queuing for a teddy with a different jacket and hat than standard? Really?"

Bosses at the toy company initially asked customers to stay away from the event after "extreme crowds" led to safety concerns.

A spokesman for Build a Bear said in a statement: "The response to our Pay Your Age Day event at all of our UK locations has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history.

"The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations and, per local authorities, queues are at capacity and we cannot accept additional guests due to extreme crowds and safety concerns.

"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."

In a later statement the company added: "Please be aware: Based on the unprecedented response to our Pay Your Age Day event in our early opening stores, we are experiencing significantly longer than expected lines and large crowds.

"Local authorities are requiring us to limit the lines and crowds due to safety concerns. We understand this is disappointing, we are working to address the situation, and we will be reaching out to our valued guests soon."

Bosses at Houndshill said that queues in the centre had been orderly and customers had behaved appropriately while waiting in the queues.

Houndshill Centre Manager Debbs Lancelott said: “There’s been a real buzz in the centre, with families queuing to make the most of the Pay Your Age Day by Build-A-Bear Workshop – the brand is much loved by our shoppers so we’re expecting the store to be busy all day.

"All our customers have been very patient whilst queuing in Houndshill today waiting for some amazing bargains for their loved ones.

“Customers have been welcome all day, the queue has been orderly and our on site staff have been looking after the families whilst they are queuing

“It's great to see the public backing a retailer in this way.”

At around 2pm on Thursday the Build a Bear website was updated to say that queues had been closed for the special Pay Your Age event.