The Evil Genius of Build-a-Bear

My parents have a fun tradition to buy each of their grandkids a Build-a-Bear animal for their fourth or fifth birthday. We all go to the store, the birthday kid picks out a bear and its outfit, hat and shoes, we eat somewhere and a good time is had by all.

The grandparents have completed this process seven times – four for my brother and three for us. Every time the honored child has been a boy because Hoaks can’t seem to produce females.

Now that we’re grafting in girls from the outside, things are, uh, different. I’m still not entirely sure what transpired when we walked in that den of childhood bliss to celebrate the girls’ fourth and fifth birthdays with two grandparents, two parents, three boys and two girls, but we left carrying a whole lot more than we entered with.

First, bears are not enough. The good business people who run Build-a-Bear wisely decided at some point not to be constrained by their name. Not only can you stuff and dress your own bear, you can now choose a cat, a dog, a pony, a ninja turtle and much more. I know this because an orange and white doggy with mega-eyelashes (Lucy) and a purple pony with wings (Sparkle) now reside at my house.

Once the girls saw the pony and the dog, they could not be talked into anything else. They were laser-focused. Which is totally fine. If they want a dog instead of a bear, more power to them.

Until you realize that a dog and a pony have four feet rather than a bear’s traditional two feet. And it’s 99 percent impossible to walk out of Build-a-Pony/Dog without also buying footwear for said animal. Only now you’re buying twice as much. Plus roller skates. More on this in a minute.

This is especially where the evil genius kicks in. One of the salesladies had very thoughtfully dressed a stuffed dog in every accessory possible and placed the dog front and center so that when my daughter entered the store, she would be overcome with joy, point at the dog and say, “I want this one! I love its roller skates and its dress and its crown and collar and its sparkly leash!”

The saleslady of course hears this and says to her partner in crime, “She wants one just like this.” Those are the words she said out loud. I broke her code, though. What she really meant was this: “Hahahaha, these people are major suckers!!!!! Let’s pile on every accessory we can find. If they say no to even one item, their whiny little kid is gonna throw a major temper tantrum. Grab double of everything for the feet. Yes!! I love how easy it is to swindle families!!!!” The speed with with the second saleslady responded was astounding.

We now have a dog and its frilly pastel tutu dress, a winged pony and its robe and hat, two glittery leashes, a crown, a collar and two birth certificates. Oh yes, and eight shoes and eight roller skates. Let me digress — roller skates for a dog are about the dumbest thing I can imagine. And yet, that’s what makes the girls excited, so roller skates it is. And here’s the rub: at least 90 percent of the time, those shoes and skates will not reside on animal feet where they belong, but in random locations where we can trip over them. There may or may not be inappropriate yelling when this occurs. Okay, digression over.

With all the accessories, we kicked in a little to cover the added costs brought about as a result of the extra x chromosomes. Build-a-Bear has quite a scheme going. I applaud their marketing department. I also would like to rain down calamity upon their heads.

I’m pretty positive this is only the beginning of the accessory parade that will march through our house over the next decade. And you know what? They’re happy, so it’s all good. Evil, but good.