December 19, 2007, 12:00 AM

Build-A-Bear constructs a virtual habitat for stuffed animals

Build-A-Bear Workshop has launched Buildabearville.com, a virtual world where visitors can create a character, decorate its online home and participate in games and quests.

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Stuffed animal retailer Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. has launched Buildabearville.com, a virtual world where visitors can create a character, decorate its online home, participate in games and quests and learn about giving back to the community. Membership is free and does not expire.

“Birth certificates” for stuffed animals made since October include an animal ID and key code, which guests can use to bring these animals to life at Buildabearville.com. After registering, visitors can make a character by choosing the color of everything from skin to hair to clothing. Registrants, or citizens as they are called in the virtual world, receive a “home” that they can decorate with furniture, a jukebox and other items. By participating in games and quests, citizens can earn the virtual world’s currency and in the spring registrants can earn Bear Bills for purchases made in Build-A-Bear Workshop stores. Build-A-Bear is No. 411 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

“In the past 10 years, more than 53 million stuffed animals have been made at Build-A-Bear Workshops in North America and the U.K.,” says Maxine Clark, founder and CEO. “We feel that Buildabearville.com is a great way for guests to continue to enhance their relationships with their furry friends and with our brand.”

Build-A-Bear Workshop has built in some safeguards for the new virtual world. When a child signs up, parents receive an e-mail inviting them to enhance communication options within the world based on age and comfort level, the company says.

“We have worked with parents and industry experts to develop a system where parents are in control of the chat options for their children and the site is monitored for safe socialization,” Clark says. “We recognize that online safety is an important issue for all parents and we have put tools in place to help ensure a safe environment for children to play” with stuffed animals and human friends, she says.

 

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