No. Not the three living animals. No, rather a couple of cute furry stuffed plush toy bears and one adorable fluffy stuffed plush toy rabbit. All three came from the Build a Bear Workshop.
Two full-sized plush bears and a small lop rabbit. You can find the bunny stuffed and ready in the shop, but the big bears have to be prepaired in the store for you. It really is literally a workshop to "build a bear". You simply pick the exterior of a bear you like and the in-store-experience can begin...
At the Build a Bear Workshop the employees really try to give you an unforgettable experience when you pick a teddy bear that needs to be stuffed. They pull you in and guide you through the process of making your unstuffed bear come to life. Something you'll notice almost instantly, is how the employees take the act very seriously. They really try their very best to help you and seem so enthousiastic you get sucked in completely... Here's what you experience:
You pick a bear and take it to a big machine in the store. This machine has stuffing swirling around in it. An employee will then kindly ask you if he or she can stuff the bear for you. I'm not entirely sure, but if I recall correctly someone told me some stores let you stuff it yourself. And that's where it all starts...
"So... Did you pick a name for your bear, yet?" This is one of the first questions the employee will ask you, while he/she stuffs your bear for you. You will also be asked if you would want your bear to be hard or soft (more or less filling), and whether it's going to be a boy or a girl. Once the process of stuffing the bear is done you'll be asked to pick a small fabric heart for your bear. Before you place the heart into your bear, you'll be asked to make a wish and blow that into the heart. The fabric heart will then be placed inside the bear, before the employee closes the hole that's used to stuff the bear. You can even decide to place a soundbox or airfreshner inside your stuffed animal. I didn't really like those extra's, so I said: "thanks, but no thanks." Before he/she finally closes up your stuffed bear he/she will place the bear's unique barcode inside the bear aswell. To finally close up the bear the employee simply pulls one string (usually at the back of the bear), ties a knot, cuts off the left-over string and done!
The stuffed animal will still have a tag on it, with the same barcode as the one that was "stuffed inside" of the bear. This tag will be used to register the bear at a computer inside the store. Here you will make your bear's passport. Seriously! An actual passport for your stuffed animal. This passport will hold it's name, gender (I'm not kidding) and the owner's information.
After all this there's one more thing you can and should do to complete your Build a Bear bear: shop for clothes. Did you expect to run into a lot of stuffed animals in the store? Well, wait and see how many pieces of clothing and accessoiries the store has to offer for your stuffed animal! Dresses, pyjamas, Star Wars costumes, Marvel Superheroes spandex suits, Hello Kitty underwear, rollerskates, you name it! If you can think of it, it probably exists for your bear aswell.
If you did find some clothes and accessoiries you like, you can go ahead and put them on your bear in the store already. Done shopping? Take your stuffed animal to the counter with the cash register. There you will recieve the Certificate of Authenticity of your bear, and a proof of purchase (in case you would like to take your bear along to the store in the future for new clothes and such). You may then pick some free (OMG something is for free!) bows for your bear to wear.
Once you've paid for your bear and it's clothes, the bear will get a small cardboard house to reside in. In some cases the cashier will ask you to help "build" the house by blowing air into it to make it pop up. All part of the experience. ;) Once your bear has taken residence in the cardboard house you've reached the end of the experience and you're free to leave the store.
This might not come as a suprise to you anymore, but I have a few Build a Bear stuffed animals myself. Three to be exact, and I would like to show them to you.
Yes! For real! I named one of my bears after my screenname. This was my first more expensive bear. A honey blonde bear, which really is just a very light brown bear. She's wearing a "dirndl", a traditional Austrian (Tirol) dress. The dress is black with white "Edelweiß"flowers on it and a pink apron. Underneeth this dress this bear is also wearing pink Hello Kitty undies. To complete the look I had picked black bows, which she wears on her ears. For this bear I decided not to stuff it all stiff, as I really wanted the bear to be cuddly and huggable.
Timmy is my second more expensive bear. This time I picked a white bear (Lil' Almond Cub), which I did get stuffed quite stiff. This way it would be easier to display the bear. It's wearing Christmas pyjamas, depicting Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and his reindeer wife. I picked white bows to go with this bear, not to suit this bear, nor to have Tommy wear them, but to be able to use them on my Quirinya bear. (And let's be honest: no true Dutchie would say no to free bows).
The lop rabbit
This stuffed animal doesn't have a name, nor a certificate. They don't hand out certificates for small animals. It's a very small bunny with long ears and very soft plushe. Even for these smaller stuffed animals you can buy clothes and accessoiries, which I did! Did you expect any different? I even bought two outfits for my bunny. One cheerleader outfit, including: skirt, top and pompoms. For the summer-time. The other outfit is meant for Christmas. It's a red velvet dress with white fluffy edges and a black belt. For this smaller stuffed animal I was also allowed to pick the free bows. I picked the red bows, as it's first outfit was the Christmas dress.
Who knows... I might buy more stuffed animals in the future, but one thing's for sure: I will mainly pick traditional teddy bears. These are timeless and my personal favorites. In case I get some more stuffed animals gifted to me (all three stuffed animals were presents, some clothes I bought myself) or in case I buy some more, I will surely let you guys know! :)