Friday, November 8, 2013

A brand-new Build-A-Bear store is now open at Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, WA

*Disclosure: I received gift cards to attend this opening and make a stuffed animal for my kids. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.

This morning, Vivian and I loaded ourselves up in the car and drove the short distance north to Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood. We were off to attend the grand opening celebration of a brand-new Build-A-Bear store! We had never been inside one before, so we were both very excited.

After arriving and scoping out the options for stuffed animals, Vivian decided that she wanted Rainbow Dash, from the My Little Ponies collection.

Next we were off to the station for choosing a name and character traits for her pony.  There is a very cool machine that lets you type in your stuffed animal's name and choose if you want it to be kind, friendly, sporty, cute, etc.  

With Rainbow Dash's heart clutched firmly in her hand, Vivian headed over to the sound station, where you have the option to place a chip inside your stuffed animal, and choose exactly what sound or song you would like it to play. Very cool!

Next it was off to the stuffing station, where Vivian got to work the pedals and help fill up her new friend with stuffing.
Then we were off to the bath station, where Vivian got to virtually wash Rainbow Dash in a fun, interactive display.
Finally Vivian chose an outfit for Rainbow Dash and the helpful staff got her all dressed up!

One of the most special parts of the morning wasn't actually watching Vivian choose and customize her stuffed animal, it was participating in part of the grand opening ceremony.  To celebrate the opening of this new store, Build-A-Bear donated a whole bunch of bears and invited guests (at no cost to us) to help finish the process.  We were able to select a heart for the bear, make a wish and send it off to Seattle Children's Hospital with love. 
Making a wish

This was incredibly emotional for me and I got very teary while we were making wishes for the donation bears, because I have been on the other end of this process. Back in 2011, my son had several surgeries and hospitalizations at Seattle Children's Hospital. He was always given a stuffed animal to help make the process less scary, and during his first hospitalization, he had received a white teddy bear from Build-A-Bear, much like the ones we were helping with today.
Ethan in 2011, with his bear from Build-A-Bear that he was given at the hospital

That bear still is part of the pile of stuffed animals that sleep in his bed with him, and every time I see it I am grateful to the people at Seattle Children's and those who donated the bear to help comfort a scared little boy (and a set of pretty freaked out parents as well). 

Build-A-Bear was really a fun experience for us and Vivian really loves her new friend. If you're looking for a fun gift that's also a great time of togetherness, head on over to Build-A-Bear!