Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Build-A-Bear Coming to Buckhead

"Build your own" stuffed animal store coming to Buckhead.

St. Louis, Missouri-based Build-A-Bear Workshop will soon open a new location at Phipps Plaza.

The new Build-A-Bear will occupy the former Sisley/United Colors of Benetton space on the second level of the mall, opposite girls' clothing store Justice.  The roughly 3,000 square foot space was once rumored to be an OshKosh B'gosh store but that never happened.  For the past year or so, the space was home to "Ritzy Twins New York" which closed quietly a few weeks ago.

According to the Build-A-Bear website, the Phipps Plaza store will open September 5th.  This date seems rather soon considering there are no building permits on file with the city of Atlanta for their space.  

When it opens, Build-A-Bear's Phipps Plaza location will mark the chain's eighth store in Georgia and its first ITP. The next closest stores are at Town Center at Cobb in Kennesaw and North Point Mall in Alpharetta.  

Build-A-Bear Workshop was started by Coral Gables, Florida-native and UGA (1971) grad, Maxine Clark.  

I recall seeing massive lines at Build-A-Bear stores at Mall of Georgia and Town Center at Cobb in the early 2000's, the peak of the store's popularity.  The lines they attracted were reminiscent of Beanie Baby launches years earlier, or Apple product launches these days.  

While Build-A-Bear is definitely not the attraction it once was, licensing and co-branding, as well as expanding product lines, has enabled the company to stay fresh.

BBW, as its traded on the NYSE, has bounced back from a low of about four bucks in 2012 to a high of over $15 earlier this year.  The stock currently trades at about $11, up nearly 50% YTD.  

Surely many young girls, and their parents, who might otherwise have trekked to an OTP mall to customize a bear of their choosing, will welcome this opening.  For the most part, Legos tend to be more popular with boys while stuffed animals tend to be more popular with girls.

The synergy that Legoland Discovery Center and nearby Justice will offer is great for families but further erodes the "luxury" branding from the previously posh mall.

Did you "Build-A-Bear" when you were younger?  If so, do you still have it? Are you a fan of the changes being made at Phipps Plaza or is it becoming to "child focused?"

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

*insert comment about Phipps' decline*

Tres said...

I definitely wouldn't say that Phipps is declining to the point of becoming, say, Gwinnett Place or Northlake. Not in the least bit. I just think management is responding to a (not-necessarily bad) shift in demographics by adding more kid- and family-friendly options to it's like up. And most of it seems to be isolated to that portion between Belk and the Monarch Court anyway and not really spreading to the more high-end portion bookended by Nordstrom and Saks. I don't think it's a bad thing, necessarily, but the "100%-high-end" business model just doesn't seem to be sustainable with Phipps what with Lenox's expansion of their luxury wing some years back, the opening of Buckhead Atlanta. Truth be told, there's only so much high-end retail this town can sustain. I wouldn't say Phipps is declining, but diversifying in light of the fact that high-end retailers have more options of where to go nowadays.

Anonymous said...

I think Buckhead needs a BABW and Phipps might as well get it. I really dislike what they have done to Phipps but they should probablyfocus in kid stores now. I will shop at BABW.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why people keep saying this mall is declining. To me, a mall declining is one with tons of empty store fronts and other seedy elements. I agree with Tres, I think they're simply responding to a shifting demographic and more family friendly atmosphere, which is fine with me. I actually like going to Phipps as I find it easier to get in and out of than Lenox.

Anonymous said...

BAB plays off the Legoland that is now open on the third level. They hsold be able to capture that same customer.

Anonymous said...

I work at Nordstrom and Phipps Plaza is declining!!!! The sales goals at my job are ridiculous and just plain outrageous. While the mall closes at 9:00pm, Nordstrom won't close until 9:25pm fearing they may loose a dollar. Sundays, Phipps closes at 5:30pm while my job stays open til 6:30pm. While Phipps may not have a high number of empty stores, the traffic in the mall is very low. Like someone said, how many high end retailers can Buckhead support?

Anonymous said...

I also don't think that Phipps is declining. They just can't fill up a mall that large with exclusively high end stores. I think going after kids is a much better way than going after regular mall stores.

As for Nordstrom, I just think it doesn't work that well. Phipps isn't very busy and is suited for the high end customer (or kids) , and Nordstrom really isn't either of those. Sure, it's no Belk, but there's only a few designer items here and there. There's no Jo Malone, La Mer, Armani, Christian Louboutin, Chanel, etc.

I prefer Bloomingdale's, Saks, and especially NM. They have a wider variety of higher end stuff, and their stores are much more attractive (not plain like Nordstrom). If I'm going to pay an arm and a leg, I want a beautiful store and good customer service (I hear this all the time but I myself never actually receive amazing customer service at Nord, but do at Saks and especially NM). After taking a visit through all 4 upscale department stores in Buckhead, Nordstrom is the smallest, least attractive, lowest end, and worst location out of them all.

Anonymous said...

You can get a great shoe shine at Nordstrom for really cheap. I prefer Nordstrom to Neiman and Saks as I don't have a need for $90 t-shirts. Nordstrom has a good market that is just below Saks/Neiman and is on-par with Bloomingdale's (although the Bloomingdale's at Lenox is in need of a serious makeover. They have stuff spilling out all over the place. Almost feels like Wal-Mart).

Anonymous said...

(I'm anonymous 9:59)

Nordstrom is actually really good for ordering online and has great customer service there. The shoe shines are good too.

Neiman's has better sales, IMO. I have gotten plenty of things there that were actually cheaper than they were at Nordstrom, and also great deals on brands that you can't get at Nordstrom (Think $100 for $300 Italian made shirts). Also, I don't like the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, either. It really turns me off that they try to do the sneaky outlet store type thing and get lower quality items and just charge less for them. I have been disappointed with the quality of nearly all my Anniversary items over the past few years, and refuse to shop the sale any longer.

I went to Neiman at Lenox and after Nordstrom at Phipps to make a return and there were at least twice as many people at NM, on a busy Saturday too. Nordstrom is getting better, though. Other stores are getting makeovers and carrying higher end lines. The Phipps store will always be second rate because of all of the competition.

The bad thing is that NM was renovated in 2007 and still looks wonderful and Nordstrom opened in 05 and is just plain. There's just nothing special about their atmosphere like the others. I will agree that Bloomie's tries to put too much in their store, however. Nordstrom is suited more to Sandy Springs and the northern suburbs than Buckhead. They have a pretty solid business at Phipps but it really can't compare to the other 3. Of course the Mall of Georgia location is probably the worst in the entire chain, however.

Anonymous said...

What makes the Mall of Georgia one so bad?

Anonymous said...

I prefer Nordstrom because I'm not treated like dirt when I go there unlike "Needless Markup" and the others... Nice mix of designer and normal brands... But I also do not buy $100 shirts...

Anonymous said...

you will always get treated like royalty at Nordstrom. We make $9 an hour and 95% of the staff is commissioned. The pitch is for sales associates to act as if this is your company. Ask everyone to open a Nordstrom credit card. Write thank you letters, emails and call customers. Ever notice how many different sales associates may ask "you would you like to start a fitting room?"

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