As soon as we walked in and over to the counter we were greeted by a big smile and made really welcome. A lady called Charlotte came to look after us.
We arrived an hour before closing on Valentine's Day, so the Valentine's bears were in short supply, but there were absolutely tons of other bears to choose from. As well as traditional bears there are My Little Ponies, Spongebob and loads of different animals.
My boys chose really quickly - my 5 year old a Panda with heart shaped eyes and my 3 year old a (very apt) Monkey.
Next stop was to decide what we wanted to put into our bears. Charlotte was really patient and explained everything to the boys very clearly.We went to choose a 'sound' for our bears. Monkey was getting a Star Wars theme tune and there wasn't one to suit Panda so my son recorded his own bear noise.
Next the bears were stuffed! The boys had to stand on a pedal to make the machine work, and watched their bear fill out and take shape.
They both decided they wanted a special heartbeat and a scent in their bears. The heartbeat, like the sound, is a plastic shape a little larger than a tealight, with an enclosed battery. The sound is placed in the hand before stuffing, and the heart goes into the bears chest. The scent is flat and again goes into the chest. We had cotton candy and strawberry and they should smell for a good 6 months.
Before stitching was the important job of putting a soft fabric heart into our bears. The boys had to take a heart and make it special by touching it on their cheeks to make the bears a little cheeky, their hearts to give it love, their heads to make it smart etc. When the hearts were full up with great stuff I had to give them a little kiss before the boys put their heart into their bear and the bears backs were sewn shut.
Bears complete, the boys gave them a little sprucing up under a warm air shower before we went to choose clothes.
Choosing clothes and accessories would have taken me forever. There are hundreds of possible outfits to choose from. My boys went straight over to the Superhero and Star Wars dress up.
We hadn't realised , but the Panda has a bigger head, so the hoods for the costumes won't fit him well, but Charlotte took us over to a different clothing range where there was a brilliant Star Wars set.
My 3 year old actually chose the t-shirt and jeans set for his monkey, as my 5 year old had spotted something else he loved, a great Harley Davidson biker jacket.
The detail on the clothes is fantastic. Pockets and zips, turn ups and a hole at the back for the tails! They're beautifully finished and really well made. The little shoes are great and the laces are even discretely sewn on so that they can't be lost.
Before you can take your bears home they're registered on the computer. When the hearts go in, so does a tag that can be read by a scanner. Your bear is registered to you, so if you lose it and someone hands it in, it should make it's way home again.
I was impressed that Charlotte encouraged the boys to do their own typing - again she was incredibly patient! She also didn't laugh when they chose the names for their animals. We now have a Monkey called Star Wars and a Panda named after it's owner!
Our Monkey and Panda were boxed ready to go home and the boys promised to look after and care for them and love them, and were given Birth Certificates for their bears.
Build-A-Bear Workshop is not just buying a bear, it's a whole experience. Your child puts a lot of effort and personalisation into their bear. They make everything how they want it and it's really special to them. We were there for an hour, although it didn't seem like it, and I left with two boys who had been on great trip out and had something fantastic to take home.
I was really incredibly pleasantly surprised by Build-A-Bear. I expected it to be good, it was great. The interaction was fantastic, the staff were lovely, the boys had a great time and adore their bears.
Added together, especially with all the extras, it makes for an expensive package, but the quality throughout is superb, and really you aren't going to get anything like it for the prices you pay anywhere else. Bears actually start at only £9, which I feel is very reasonable. I will more than happily go back and pay around £12 for a little outfit or £5.50 for some pumps for Christmas or a birthday present.
I would advise anyone going to consider the size of animal they choose as some fit different outfits better than others. I'd probably also give my child a maximum budget because it would be incredibly easy to just buy everything as it's so sweet.
There are loads of extras you can buy for your bear including playsets, beds, raincoats, and my favourite - a wheelchair. My 5 year old has already asked for a skateboard and helmet for his panda for his birthday.
Until March 31st you can choose a special purple heart for your bear for £1, which will be donated to the Starlight Children's Foundation UK to help make wishes come true for terminally ill children. For everyone who shares a photo of their bear with #shareukbabwwishes on social media £1 will also be donated by Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Build-A-Bear Workshop has locations all around the UK, and you can also buy online if you can't reach a store. We reviewed the Bury branch in Greater Manchester.
We were given our bears, clothes and accessories for the purpose of the review.