Innovation That Matters

Retail chain for junior tuners

Work & Lifestyle

Those of you who haven’t visited a US mall lately might have missed the fuzzy phenomenon known as Build-A-Bear Workshops, a hugely successful chain of stores that lets patrons build their own teddy. Build-A-Bear was founded in 1997 and now operates 300 stores worldwide. For one reason or another, the workshops mainly attract girls and their mothers. Boys and their fathers (and car loving daughters) no longer need to feel left out — as of Friday, they can pimp their own toys at Ridemakerz, whose first store opened in Myrtle Beach, SC. How the concept works: kids select a 10 to 12-inch chassis, body style, paint scheme and sound effects. After assembly in the customizing shop, personalization continues: customers can add decals, grilles and other elements. A free wheel chassis retails from US 12 for a basic unbranded ‘RZ Wedge’ to USD 28 for a Dodge Ram Rampage. Extras are, well, extra: USD 25 for remote control, USD 6.50 for working lights, USD 3 for a soundtrack or screeching tires and growling motors set to rock or electronic music. Each car comes with a certificate of title, personalized license plates and assembly tools, and birthday parties will be catered to starting this summer. Ridemakerz was founded with financial investment from Build-A-Bear, which is also sharing infrastructure, marketing data and back-office support with its four-wheeled sibling. “Our partnership with Build-A-Bear Workshop allows us to fire on all cylinders from the very start,” says Ridemakerz’ CEO Larry Andreini. Currently, The Ridemakerz Customizing Shop in Myrtle Beach and four outlets to be opened this year are company owned and operated, not franchised. Opportunities? Build-A-Bear has started to spread to other parts of the world, along with local copycats. But both ‘do it yourself together’ concepts still have plenty of room to grow outside the US and are great examples for (toy) manufacturers and retailers who want to add a strong layer of experience to their products.



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