Build-A-Bear is coming under fire once again with regards to their 'Pay Your Age' promotion. This time the company is being criticized for what some feel is a tone-deaf response to a grieving mother who simply wanted to make a bear to honor her late daughter.
Ashley Guevara had won tickets to this year's Build-A-Bear 'Pay Your Age' event. She had planned to take her two daughters, but sadly, her 6-month-old daughter Dahlia, born with a rare genetic disease, died just last week of complications from pneumonia. Guevara had asked the company on their Facebook page if she could make a bear in Dahlia's honor, and was shocked when the company denied her request.
The company responded to Ashley's post writing, "Hi Ashley- Thank you for reaching out and for being our Guest. We are so sorry for your loss. This is designed to be an in-store experience for our Guests. Therefore, the Guest must be present to pay their age. Our thoughts are with you and we are sending Bear Hugs your way." The company included a link to their 'pay your age' information page on their website.
Dahlia's father, Joey Duvall, was shocked by the response from the company. "To me, it just felt like they wanted us to dig her up out of the ground and bring her there," he told ABC 11.
The backlash was swift on social media, with hundreds of commenters calling out the company and accusing them of being 'heartless' and their response 'appalling'. "Heartless response," wrote one commenter. " I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby. Shame on Build-A-Bear!!!!" wrote another. The company quickly responded yet again, asking Guevara to contact them directly.
Dorrie Krueger, Chief Strategy Officer for the company confirmed to ABC 11 that the CEO personally reached out and spoke to Guevara. "Our CEO has spoken directly with the mother, Ashley Guevara, and expressed our regret for our original online response. We are working with the family to find a time when they can visit our store for a personal - and hopefully special - complementary experience at a time that is convenient for them."
Guevara told the news station that all she wanted was some way to honor the memory of her late daughter.
"It would mean the world to us," said Guevara. "It would just be a piece of her that we would have forever. So we can have a little Dahlia with us, always."