Build-A-Bear Workshop’s “Pay Your Age Day” promo was back this summer and to avoid the mayhem of last year, the company did things differently this time.

Only a select number of kids had a chance to win a “Pay Your Age” ticket to get the special “Pay Your Age” price. North Carolina parents Ashley Guevara and Joey Duvall won tickets to the special nationwide event and were looking forward to taking their older daughter and youngest daughter, 6-month-old Dahlia, to the experience on June 20.

Sadly, the infant, who was born with a rare genetic disease, died of complications from pneumonia on the Thursday Guevara found out she had gotten a ticket to the event, reports WTVD.


The grieving couple wanted to honor the death of their infant by building a bear in her name, so Guevara reached out to the company on Facebook and asked if she could still use Dahlia’s Pay Your Age ticket to create a stuffed animal in her memory.

Hello. I requested two tickets for my daughters to get a bear made during the pay your age. Unfortunately my almost 6 month old passed away on Thursday. Is there anyway I could still make one in honor of her?

Posted by Ashley Guevara on Saturday, June 22, 2019

The family was stunned by the company’s response.

Guevara wrote:

Hello. I requested two tickets for my daughters to get a bear made during the pay your age. Unfortunately my almost 6 month old passed away on Thursday. Is there anyway I could still make one in honor of her?

The mom told the outlet:

“She was finally out of the hospital so we were really excited to have an experience with both of our daughters.”

Build-A-Bear denied Guevara’s request because guests must be present for the event.

Instead, they apologized and sent virtual “Bear Hugs” the family’s way.

Posted by Andrea Blanford on Tuesday, June 25, 2019


The retailer commented on her post:

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. For more information please visit:

Our thoughts are with you and we are sending Bear Hugs your way.

The company’s response received outrage online. One commenter wrote:

This is so wrong in so many levels Build-A-Bear Workshop shame on you.

Many offered to pay to have a bear built to honor Guevara’s precious daughter.

The child’s dad, Joey Duvall, said:

“To me, it just felt like they wanted us to dig her up out of the ground and bring her there.”

Posted by Andrea Blanford on Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Amid the online backlash, Build-A-Bear’s CEO called Guevara on Tuesday to apologize and invited the family to a private event. Dorrie Krueger, Chief Strategy Officer told the outlet:

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 and Duvall buried little Dahlia on Monday.

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About the author

Tiffani is a writer for Dearly. She is from New York City. Prior to working for Dearly she covered fashion news and managed social media for various digital media outlets.

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2 Replies to “Parents Slam Build-A-Bear for Denying a Grieving Mother’s Request to Build a ‘Pay Your Age’ Bear in Her Memory”

  • Donna 2 years ago

    What is wrong with companies and employees being so heartless….look what you do to your public image..geeezz. !!!!!

  • Denise 2 years ago

    Wow, again the media jumps in to slam a company… to get people to jump and scream.. shame on you… the mother reached out in an email online… the associate responded in the manner they were trained to respond… the reporter waits until the absolute end of the story to report… but… hey… the mom was contacted and they are not only going to allow her to make the best in honor.. they are going to give the family an entire shut down store to build this bear in private… please do not use email to contact a company about matters as important as this. Call the company directly.. the hurt could have been avoided that way… again, the employee answered the email with the only answer they are given the power to answer with… the ones who should have been contacted for this matter heard of it and fixed the situation with an even sweeter opportunity. STOP bashing the company.

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