BUILD-A-BEAR WORKSHOP WAS STARTED IN 1997 AS AN INTERACTIVE RETAIL CONCEPT THAT ATTRACTS KIDS FROM 3 TO 103 – A CONCEPT THAT WOULD BRING OUT THE KID IN ALL OF US. IN OUR ORIGINAL BUSINESS PLAN, WE ESTIMATED THAT WE WOULD DO FIRST YEAR SALES AT ABOUT THE MALL AVERAGE SALES PER SQUARE FOOT – OR ABOUT $750,000 PER YEAR. BUT WE DID MORE THAN DOUBLE THAT OUR FIRST YEAR AND HAVE BEEN OFF AND RUNNING EVER SINCE REACHING SALES PER SQUARE FOOT OF $573 LAST YEAR AND AVERAGE STORE VOLUME OF $1.8 MILLION. WE HAVE BUILT AN INTERNATIONAL BRAND WITH OVER 275 STORES IN THE US, CANADA , THE UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND, AND STORES OPEN OR SCHEDULED TO OPEN IN 22 INTERNATIONAL COUNTRIES WITH OUR FRANCHISEES. WHILE WE HAVE SOLD OVER 50 MILLION STUFFED ANIMALS SINCE OUR INCEPTION, WHAT WE BELIEVE DIFFERENTIATES US FROM OTHER TOY RETAILERS IS THAT WE ARE ALSO A POWERFUL INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT BRAND THAT ATTRACTS A BROAD RANGE OF GUESTS.
While analysts and other experts have a real understanding of traditional retail companies, there are a number of differences between conventional retail and Build-A-Bear Workshop. When you think of conventional retail, you know it’s merchandise driven, displayed in a traditional way that usually appeals to a particular age or economic demographic while driving its sales through promotions and markdowns. Build-A-Bear Workshop is a very different. What does that mean? First of all, we sell the brand experience - that means we sell not only the product but the experience and the experience is just as important as the product . Secondly, we sell our unique products in a dramatic, highly interactive theme park environment – one with bright colors, larger-than-life fixtures, an environment that will encourage people to stay and interact with our products and our store associates. We appeal to a broad demographic in age, gender, and income And finally, we use Marketing to grow brand awareness and sales, not markdowns and promotions. What we have in common with traditional retail is how we measure our success … but the real advantage we have is how we leverage this powerful brand to build additional revenue streams through licensing, non-mall locations like ball parks, theme parks…wherever families have fun, and international.
CNBC I am American Business, April, 2009 interviewed Maxine Clark, Founder & CEB of BABW talking about our unique culture
At BABW our store associates ARE the experience Our goal is to provide a great culture and associate experience so our teams focus on our guests and sales results We think we’re doing something right. In 2006, 86% of all associates were satisfied with their job with 53% giving it the highest rating of highly satisfied.
Although a brand is not a logo, our logo certainly is an image that tells the story of our business – you can see our core values from the time you enter our store… We are an organization that values teamwork and integrity. You’ve heard me say it before.... “1 + 1 = 10”! We listen and learn from each other and we reward and recognize great accomplishments and extra efforts. We look for possibilities, not obstacles, always setting challenging goals to help us strive for breakthrough results. We are not content with just being the best! We are an energetic team that gives back to our communities!
At BABW, we say its about sales AND smiles. We have conducted Guest satisfaction surveys almost from day 1 – we started back in 1998 and continue to improve our research methodology as well as direct our stores on how to improve Guest experience. As importantly, we tie Guest satisfaction scores into our company’s pay. Our stores are bonused on the Guest satisfaction results they deliver. Our results speak for themselves. Nearly 80% of all Guests surveyed rate their overall satisfaction as a 5. With over 90% giving it a 4 or a 5, we believe that our focus on what matters – the drivers which are the human touch points – help us deliver these strong and consistent results – across stores, markets, even countries and over long ranges of time.
Strategies for Building a High-Trust Culture: Developing Best Practices Human Resource Management Association Meeting September 16, 2009
“ When you enter Build-A-Bear's World Bearquarters in St. Louis, you get the feeling that it’s a fun place to work. The environment taps into the little kid in all of us: colorful walls plastered with murals of teddy bears, designers and artists working on the latest outfits and accessories and bearisms inscribed along the walls, like "You aren't born a bear, you become a bear." All that AND you can even bring your dog to work! Don't get me wrong, beneath the colorful atmosphere beats the heart of a hard working company. And when you've had a chance to spend some time with company founder Maxine Clark, it's easy to understand how it all comes together. "It's about having fun, sharing, and caring." She gets it. Her employees get it. And the customer benefits from that philosophy as well.”