By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – A busload of kids got to stuff bears Friday morning at the Build-A-Bear Workshop at The Mall at Barnes Crossing, but none of them got to keep them.
Instead, the children from Shannon Middle School made the toys to donate to the Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialty Clinic. They later participated in the store’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The store – only the second for the company in Mississippi – had a soft opening on Thursday, and Store Manager Angela Powell said “we had a good day. Better than expected. Everybody’s been excited and ready.”
It’s been a dream come true for kids and parents alike, who have had to drive to Memphis to get their Build-A-Bear fix previously.
Mall General Manager Jeff Snyder said excitement has been growing for quite some time.
“And based on the reaction so far, it looks like they’ll be here a long time,” he said.
In fact, Bridget Donelon, Build-A-Bear’s district manager, laughed and said that the Memphis store manager wasn’t too happy about the Tupelo opening.
“Our assortment is a little different but we have all the holiday merchandise and the core merchandise,” she added. “But if we don’t have it here, we can get it online.”
The store has four managers and 12 “master bear builders,” working.
Another new store in the mall is a mini-version of Scruggs Farm, Lawn amp& Garden.
Located next to Buckle, the 4,000-square-foot store carries apparel, toys and other merchandise from the bigger Scruggs store on Tom Watson Drive.
It also takes the place of Toys R Us Express, which was originally set to open last week.
Toys R Us had announced in September that it planned to open 600 of the temporary stores in malls and shopping centers across the country during the holidays.
But negotiations to open a store in Tupelo inside the mall fell through, and the national toy retailer will stick with its standalone store down the road.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t work things out this time,” Snyder said. “But Scruggs will be another good addition, and it gives a local retailer another location with a pop-up store to connect with customers.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.