For the first time, Build-A-Bear Workshop will partner with 2,000 Walmart stores across the United States in celebration of its National Teddy Bear Day.
The celebration, which begins Saturday and runs through Monday, will include various activities and entertainment at locations around the globe and the release of a limited-edition plush bear, according to a company press release.
Brand mascot "Bearemy" will be at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores on Saturday, and will be traveling to local communities and iconic landmarks throughout the world on Sunday. Patrons are encouraged to snap photos and share on social media with the hashtag #nationalteddybearday between now and Monday. In return, the company's foundation will donate up to 50,000 teddy bears to charities working with children, as "numerous studies have shown that the hug of a teddy bear can help children build self-confidence and act as a therapeutic tool."
Build-A-Bear and Walmart have partnered on exclusive products in the past, and a few years ago even launched shop-in-shops in six Walmart stores. Those were clearly successful enough to warrant a larger collaboration at a couple thousand stores, at least for this event.
The toy retailer in recent years has left many malls, where traffic is sliding. CEO Sharon Price John, speaking at Shoptalk in March, said that has involved partnering instead with indoor water park chain Great Wolf Lodge, Bass Pro's experiential Cabela's outdoor retail stores and the six Walmart supercenters. Build-A-Bear has also tied up with newly reemerged toy store FAO Schwarz.
"In 1997, families went to malls," she said then, noting that these days they're going elsewhere together.
Still, even in decline, better malls boast traffic that beats most alternatives. Walmart stores remain among the few brick-and-mortar venues that still rival or even beat them. Walmart Supercenters dominated in research comparing 10 major retailers' traffic earlier this year, taking 47.3% of the total, and its Neighborhood Market stores also gained, according to a study last month from Placer.ai. With its activity-based approach to sales, Build-A-Bear is more dependent than other retailers on physical locations.
"We are pleased to once again lead the celebration of National Teddy Bear Day and honored to work with Walmart on our first-ever national collaboration to make this the biggest event yet," John said in a statement.