Build-A-Bear Workshop: Fun for all ages and occasions
Who doesn't love teddy bears? Stuffed animals are great gifts for all ages and occasions. Collectible bears and stuffed animals are hot items this season as well, as evidenced by Webkinz, Beanie Babies, and Littlest Pet Shop products.
I originally went to Build-A-Bear Workshop (abbreviated to BABW) on the recommendation of a friend for a costume for my cat. Yes, my cat Tabby likes to be dressed up. She's an attention hog and goes out in public for volunteer work at local nursing homes. I was amazed at the variety of outfits to choose from. There are outfits for holidays, occupations, Disney characters, and "new baby". Among the "everyday" outfits are Hello Kitty designs, Limited Too branded products, and jeans.
Boys are not left out of the BABW fun, either. Clothing comes in both boy and girl outfits, complete with "bear boxers" or panties. The accessories come in all types as well, from camping and fishing gear to sports gear to wigs, sunglasses, shoes and hats. Most of the items are mix-and-match, so you can put together a totally custom outfit.
Some of the outfits purchased online can be personalized. Graduation cap & gown sets, sports uniforms, doctor and nurse outfits, chef outfits, and new baby items all can be embroidered with names and sometimes a special date.
BABW also sells stuffed animals. Actually, they sell un-stuffed animals. You choose which one you want to make, then the store associate stuffs it to your specifications (super-soft, moderately filled, or filled all the way), putting a fabric heart inside. They then tie it up with the pre-sewn stiching, and give you your new "friend". The selection is not limited to teddy bears. There are dinosaurs, dogs, cats, and endangered animals. Some of the animals benefit charities like World Wildlife Fund and reading programs.
The stuffed animals also come with their own tracking system. A unique barcode is stuffed inside each "friend" along with the heart. When you name your animal in the computer system, you scan the ear tag with the matching bar code, then enter your address. If the animal is ever lost and turned in, it will be sent back to the address entered. Any parent who has encountered the "I lost my ________!" and had to go searching for the object in question at various stores knows the peace of mind this gives. It even works across the country and around the world.
Yes, around the world. There are BABW stores in 19 different countries. Most of the outfits and the stuffed animals are the same worldwide, but there are some culture-specific outfits as well. I found the Norwegian national costume online and ordered it for my cat to wear, since that is my heritage. The shipping is extra, of course, but it's a one-of-a-kind item.
I have always been impressed with the quality of the animals and the outfits, too. They hold up well, are washable (even the animals), and are kid-friendly (no little parts or eyes that come out). No matter what you get, you and the gift recipient will be thrilled with your purchase.