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Build-A-Bear Denies Grieving Mom's Request To Get A Bear In Her Baby's Honor But Offers Virtual 'Bear Hugs' Instead

Photo: Facebook / Eric Glenn / Shutterstock 
baby Dahlia, Build A Bear

A grieving mother asked Build-A-Bear for the opportunity to make her own stuffed bear to honor her late daughter. 

However, the company refused and instead informed the woman that they were sending “virtual bear hugs” to her and her family. 

The company’s response sparked rightfully sparked outrage on social media. 

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Build-A-Bear denied the mother’s request to create a customized bear for her late daughter because the guests had to be physically present to create their own stuffed bear. 

In 2019, Ashley Guevara and Joey Duvall of Wake County, North Carolina, were devastated after the loss of their six-month-old daughter, Dahlia, due to pneumonia complications. 

The baby girl was born with a rare genetic disorder and was in and out of the NICU for most of her short life. Her mother described her as “a very strong baby.” 

The same day Dahlia passed, Guevara received a coveted ticket from Build-A-Bear Workshop, promoting the company’s Pay Your Age Promotion, which allowed guests to receive a bear that was priced based on their age. 

The mother and father planned on taking both of their daughters to the event at the Crabtree Valley Mall before Dahlia’s death. 

After her passing, Guevara contacted Buil-A-Bear asking if she could still make a bear in Dahlia’s honor. 

“Hello. I requested two tickets for my daughters to get a bear made during the pay your age. Unfortunately, my almost 6-month-old passed away on Thursday. Is there any way I could still make one in honor of her?” the grieving mother wrote. 

Dahlia’s parents were shocked after they received a response from Build-A-Bear denying the request. 

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“Hi Ashely- thank you for reaching out and for being our Guest. We are so sorry for your loss,” they replied. “This is designed to be an in-store experience for our Guests. Therefore, the Guest must be present to pay their age.” 

The company added that their thoughts were with the family and that they were sending “bear hugs” their way. 

Guevara claims the response felt like a “slap in the face.” “To me, it just felt like they wanted us to dig her up out of the ground and bring her there,” said Duvall. 

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Build-A-Bear received backlash from other customers. 

“You should be ashamed of yourselves. This is how you take care of the mothers in your community?” one Facebook user wrote. 

“Sickeing response from Build-A-Bear, don’t bother offering something through guilt or trying to look good your company is so insensitive,” another user commented. 

Others vowed to never shop at Build-A-Bear again. 

Eventually, the company reached out to Guevara a second time, asking her to contact them privately. 

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The CEO of Build-A-Bear apologized to the mother and offered the family a personal visit to create a bear in Dahlia’s honor. 

A spokesperson for the company confirmed the news to ABC11 in an email statement. 

"Our CEO has spoken directly with the mother, Ashley Guevara, and expressed our regret for our original online response,” they claimed.

“We are working with the family to find a time when they can visit our store for a personal - and hopefully special - complementary experience at a time that is convenient for them." 

Guevara says that this is all she ever wanted to remember her daughter. 

"It would mean the world to us," she says. "It would just be a piece of her that we would have forever. So we can have a little Dahlia with us, always."

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.