A Build-A-Bear workshop may be "Where Best Friends Are Made," as the toyshop claims.
But the stores also have the capacity to breed mischief, thanks to naughty customers taking advantage of the personalized voice recording option–a popular feature.
"Build A Bear workers what's the strangest voice recording you've heard?"
These are examples of scenarios when a customer couldn't speak for themselves.
"I had a guy come in with loads of shopping bags. Flowers and chocolates. Typical gifts you'd get a girlfriend but WAY too many. He bought a bear and just recorded."
"Hannah, I'm SORRY!"
"He didn't seem in the mood to talk so I didn't pry but everyone in the store agreed it was a terrible idea. Reminding your girlfriend she's angry at you everytime she squeezes a bear."
The Private Message
"I can’t think of any truly strange recordings, but this did make me think of a semi-awkward situation I was in. A dad came in to make stuffed dog for his daughter. His partner was telling me that he was going through some sort of intense custody battle situation and didn’t get to see his daughter very much. He ended up going to like a separate part of the store (or maybe the bathroom? I don’t remember) to record the message. Like, the dude clearly didn’t want anyone to hear it. But then when I put the sound thingy in the dog’s paw and line it up correctly, I kept accidentally pressing it a bunch of times. It was basically him just telling his daughter how much he missed her—so nothing sketchy or anything like that. But I just felt super intrusive because it seemed like it was intended something really personal that I wasn’t supposed to hear."
"So just to be clear - this isn’t a judgment on the customer, just my awkward and clumsy-a** self."
"I heard a man there, he had made a 'sexy' recording for giving to his girl. Kinda creepy, but if it worked...."
A Bear's Purpose
"A friend gave a girl a bear, when asking her out, with the recording of his voice saying 'It is my duty..... to rock that booty.'"
Adult customers can be silly as mischievous children.
The Bear Doesn't Consent
"In high school at the time, making a bear as a gift for my best friend. Thought it’d be hilarious to put the little heart speaker into the bear’s crotch and have it say 'Don’t touch me there!' when pressed."
"Go to check out and this poor elderly woman working the register grabs the bear in just the right way that at least 10+ people around hear someone shout 'DONT TOUCH ME THERE!!!'”
"All heads turned. I thought I was going to have to resuscitate the poor cashier. Left and never went back."
"I was a customer. One voice recording I managed to hear was 'C*CK AND BALL' very loudly.
Beware The Volume
"I worked at BABW from 2004-2010. I can’t remember any build-a-sounds that were especially outrageous. My favorite was when the parents really didn’t care, so the kid would record something long, rambling, and odd. The sound costs $8 back then, so almost as much as some bears, but the parents would just shrug it off as the kids screamed some random message."
"If it was an important message, like a proposal, I would try to persuade people to just buy the sound box, then go record it at home, and come back another day to make the bear. People don’t realize that Build-a-Bears are hella loud. Those stuffy machines were basically vacuums and playing your build-a-sound while standing next to vacuum and gaggles of children is not a great representation of what you’ve just recorded. It is going to play back LOUD. We’d have people record in the bathroom regularly, which was better than recording in the store, but very echoey."
Oliver, The Sardonic Bear
"Customer, not worker, but John Oliver has a comedy sketch about when he moved from the UK to New York and he was feeling really lonely, so his friends got him a present: a Build-a-Bear that said 'You will die, alone, in a dark, cold room.' That's friendship for you."
"Well, my sister thought it was hilarious, so I went and did it for her. You get some weird looks at the store, but even as she moved across the country from me, she took it with her and cherished that someone cared enough about her to build a stuffed bear telling her she would die alone to satisfy her sense of humor."
"She named the bear Oliver."
A Parent Bonds With Their Daughter
"My daughter when she was 11- in a creepy voice, 'Get your Paws offa me!' We laughed like idiots, playing it over and over on the way home. Her mom did not share our humor. We still laugh about it 15 years later, but I'm pretty sure wife burned the bear."
"Yesterday, a high schooler came in and wanted to record anime moans from his phone. BaB vetoes some recordings..."
Get A Clue
"I mean probably not weird but I set up a scavenger hunt for my wife each clue solved gave her a letter collect all five letters and solve the cryptex."
"The clue I gave her was something like 'the beating source of life needs to be removed, do you have the stomach to do what you must?' I wrote the letter on the little heart they put on it and they sealed it up. I recorded the jigsaw quote I want to play a game' on the speaker and when she found the stuffed dog it had a picture of jigsaw and a knife."
"My bear didn’t say anything he just mooed like a cow. I also named him suitcase."
On the flip side, memorial bears are a poignant options for those in grief.
A Boy Memorialized
"My son works at BaB. His very first day of work he had to build a memorial bear. The mother and grandmother came in with a voice recording of the little boy who died of cancer. It was a recording of the kid saying he was brave and loved his life."
"I can't count the number of memorial bears Ive made."
"Most recently had a family bring in a recording of their grandma's heartbeat to make a bear for each grandkid."
"I think the weirdest one I got was a couple preteens recording a tiktok onto the build a sound. I'm not sure exactly what was on it, but they were really awkward about it, so I ended up turning the computer down really low so it didn't project through the whole store. I made an extra effort to not squeeze the sound as I put it in the paw."
"Us Bear Builders have lots of stories. Some good, some sad, some downright terrifying."
A Gift For A Bereaved Mother
"I had a lady come in to make a memorial bear for the mother of a baby who died, she put an audio recording of the baby crying."
"Definitely not creepy. We had our baby’s heartbeat recorded during an ultrasound and put it into a stuffed animal. My newborn daughter passed away a few weeks after delivery and now that heartbeat is something we have to remind us of her."
It's no wonder that BaB toys are so popular.
It's next-level roses and chocolates gift-giving option for all occasions.
Of course, it's also a huge opportunity for vexatious customers to exploit the personalizing feature for their dirty deeds.
Which customer are you?
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