Founder Maxine Clark tells Fortune Small Business how she built Build-a-Bear Workshop into a $468 million business.

Early in my career, Stanley Goodman, who was then CEO of May, said something that has stuck with me: “Retailing is entertainment, and when customers have fun, they spend more money.” I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew it would involve children, because kids know how to enjoy themselves.

I may not have invented the idea of making a stuffed animal, but I did provide a venue for it. When I started Build-a-Bear Workshop, most malls had little to offer children. The stuffed-animal business was mostly seasonal, but I didn’t let the way others made or sold stuffed animals deter me. Our concept was based on customization and guest entertainment.

Adults told me my idea wouldn’t work. “Who wants to make their own stuffed animals?” they argued. But every kid said, “Where is it? When can I do it?”

Continue Reading: “How Build-a-Bear Invented A Bear Market”

Photo by Build-a-Bear.

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