I don’t know about you, but I always used to cringe when my little one would beg me to take him to Build-A-Bear. As much as I love seeing the smile that his new furry friend brings to his face, I hate seeing the ding that it puts in my bank account. In fact, the first time that I took him to BAB, my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw my $60 tab! Fortunately, since then I’ve learned a few tips for stretching your dollar at Build-A-Bear. Here are seven of the best money-saving tips to use next time you decide to treat your little one to a new animal:

1. Join the Stuff for Stuff Club

I have to admit, sometimes I get annoyed with all of the loyalty and rewards cards I carry in my wallet, but if someone in your family is a Build-A-Bear lover, this is definitely one card that you are going to want to sign up for! This is one of the best and easiest ways to save at Build-A-Bear. Basically, the club works like this – for every dollar you spend at BAB, you will earn one point. The more points you earn, the more rewards you receive. For every 100 points you earn you will receive a $10 gift card, but there are other rewards along the way, as well. When you get to 50 points, you will get a free accessory, at 150 points you’ll receive a free outfit and at 250 points you’ll receive a free animal! Even if you don’t spend a fortune at BAB, it’s still worth joining the club for the perks available to all club members. These include free ribbons, bows and fluff as well as a special coupon on your birthday! Get all of the details and join the club here.

2. Check for coupons

Build-A-Bear often has printable coupons available, as well as codes that can be used online, so it is important to see what is available before you head out. Besides checking their website, one of the best places to find current BAB coupons and online codes is on RetailMeNot. Not only will RetailMeNot show you all available coupons, but you can also read comments from other users regarding those coupons. People will often leave helpful tips such as whether they had any issues with the coupon or if they got a great deal using it.

3. Download the Build-A-Bear mobile app

I actually had no idea that Build-A-Bear had a mobile app until just recently when I spotted one of my neighbor’s kids playing with it. At first I assumed that it was just their game, Bearville, but on closer inspection, I found that this app has all sorts of cool features! This app gives you the scoop on all of the latest promotions, special deals, and new products happening in-store. You’ll also get exclusive offers and Bearville codes for the kids to use in the game. Another feature that the little ones may enjoy is the Bear Tracker, where kids can keep track of all of the animals they currently have, as well as list the ones they want. The BAB app is free and is currently only available for iPhone, iTouch, and iPads.

4. Shop eBay for unstuffed bears

There are often surprises (both good and bad) to be found on eBay, and finding unstuffed animals was definitely a good surprise! There are quite a few sellers that offer unstuffed animals at a discounted price. Last time I checked eBay, I found everything from the now-retired Black Bear for $5 to the Jonas Dog and Floppy Pony for $6. Many sellers also offer the hard-to-get and limited edition animals for much more, but sort the listings by price and you’ll find numerous animals under $10. Depending on what was listed, in the past I have ordered several animals from the same seller to save on shipping. I put the extra unstuffed animals in the closet and surprised my son with them (and a trip to BAB) every few months. I’ve also found eBay especially helpful when my little one keeps asking for a certain animal that he missed out on and is no longer available in the stores. He ended up with the animal he wanted, and I got it for a great price – you can’t beat that!

5. Follow them on social media

If you’re not following BAB on Facebook and Twitter then you may be missing out on some great discounts! Build-A-Bear offers promos, special items, and discounts exclusive to Facebook and Twitter fans. In fact, just recently I was able to snag a bear that was available only for a few days and only to Facebook fans! In the past they have also had contests for fans and offered such items as coupons for $10 off of a $30 purchase available only for fans on their social media sites.

6. Stick with the $10 and $12 items

Some of the plush animals at Build-A-Bear can cost as much as $25, but luckily, Build-A-Bear always has 3-5 animals priced at $10 and $12. This is especially helpful if you’re taking more than one child or having a birthday party here. You may be worried that your child will already have all of the less expensive animals, but Build-A-Bear does change the $10 and $12 items through the course of the year – just at a slower rate than the regular animals.

7. Buy the outfits on Amazon

I’m always amazed at how quickly the bill adds up when we go to Build-A-Bear, and it’s always due to the usual suspect – the clothing! Even if you purchase one of the less expensive animals, those outfits and accessories can really skyrocket the cost of your trip. The majority of outfits at Build-A-Bear cost around $13, and the shoes are typically priced at $8, but you can snag these for 50 percent off or more on Amazon! Amazon always has a pretty good selection of outfits typically priced between $6 and $7, although I have actually found pieces for as low as $2! If you’re worried that you child is too impatient to wait for their outfit to arrive, consider ordering an outfit or two a week before you plan to take them so you can pull it out of the closet and surprise them on the day of your visit!

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