Kids’ imaginations are running wild at some of the latest creative and technologically advanced toy stores in St. Louis. LN takes a peek inside...
At Build-A-Bear, boys and girls have a hand in every step of creating a new furry friend.
Founded in St. Louis 15 years ago, Build-A-Bear recently opened a new concept store at West County Center. From the moment kids walk into the new playland, they are greeted with a full sensory toy-making experience. The process starts with choosing a new best buddy, then the stuffed animal is 'brought to life' with the brand’s signature heart. Next is the Love Me station, where youngsters can customize their friend’s personality—from cuddly or brave to smart. “This makes each one truly unique,” notes Build-A-Bear's Dorrie Krueger.
Then, it’s on to the full touch-screen sound studio, where high-quality sound, such as a voice message, is added to the animal. The assembly line also includes a scent sensory station with an interactive, digital bathtub, a dressing station, and a Name Me station, where the animal is scanned. “You get to see everything you put inside your bear,” Krueger says. “Kids' eyes get to be 20-feet wide at this final stage, so it’s very magical.”
The new concept store was developed during a two-year period, where the company’s staff followed a group of 'cub advisers' and their parents to get a deep understanding of their in-store experience and play patterns. “The hands-on play and imaginative aspects of Build-A-Bear really bring kids and parents together in a unique shared experience,” Krueger says, adding that family members also discover something about their children as they create their new furry friend.
American Girl strives to make each girl’s in-store experience as unique and unforgettable as she is. So when it came to designing a new experiential version of the popular store, the company aimed to offer girls the opportunity to see and touch American Girl products in person, while making lasting memories with their families and friends.
Inside the new store at Chesterfield Mall, visitors can explore displays of historical and contemporary dolls, books and accessories—which include not only doll outfits, but matching girl-size clothing. For a memorable playtime, kids can enjoy a meal with their dolls in the 22-seat Bistro and have a sweet treat at the Dessert Counter. Girls also can pamper their dolls with a new hairstyle in the Doll Hair Salon and design their own girl- and doll-sized T-shirts at the 'Creativi-Tees' Boutique. In addition, special events and programs based on the doll’s historical and contemporary book lines take place at the store throughout the year. To celebrate the holiday season and American Girl’s newest historical character, Caroline, an upcoming event will include a free craft based on the doll’s story, which is set in 1812.
Susan Jevens, of American Girl, says the company’s goal is to continue to celebrate girls’ interests with products and experiences that are designed just for them. “And we want parents to leave with the feeling they’ve provided their daughters with a high-quality, age-appropriate experience that celebrates who she is.”