For years my now 15-year-old niece insisted she just had to go into Build-A-Bear for a look, not to buy anything, honest.
As childless aunt I didn’t get it. My sister was enthusiastic which is fair enough.
Then I spawned.
Now the spawn is four. My sister insisted on taking us to Build-A-Bear for my daughter’s fourth birthday.
We went into down, me feeling a sense of dread and doom and W bouncing in her seat as she’d finally get to go through the hallowed doors.
To be fair the colourful array of soft toy skins and accessories does look fabulous if you like that sort of thing.
Two members of staff were enthusiastically manning the store in Churchill Square, Brighton.
It smelled of lemon sherbet.
Poor W was slightly overwhelmed by the choice, not just soft toys but sounds and smells too.
Fortunately as an expert my sister helped her pick out a colourful basic bear and we chose a six phrase voice box (no smell).
All well and good I thought, then it came to filling the bear and I felt blown away by the magical experience.
Little W enjoyed helping pump the stuffing inside the empty case, once we had put in her own bar code and the sound.
Then the heart. This was special. She picked a gingham one, warmed it in her hands, rubbed it on her knees, elbows, across her heart and whispered a wish before giving it a kiss and putting it to her nose.
Apparently that make it work. Her little face was a picture. She bought into the magic, as much as a four-year-old will. It’s her bear made her way, with things she wanted.
This was the moment I got it. It’s more than just filling a bear shape with fluff. It is enchanting.
Once the fluff filler sewed up the toy now named Bunny Bear (I just dunno), the next mission was creating the birth certificate, so it returns when lost, and buy half a tonne of clothing.
My niece still has a wardrobe full of Build A Bear clothes and we might need one. It even has slippers and shoes.