- Crafts with your bear: Build-A-Bear's core purpose was creating a friend, but what should a customer do when they walk out of the store? How do you actually "play" with a teddy bear? Build-A-Bear could easily fill that gap the way American Girl did: create an activity book for you and your bear. Whether provided online (without depending on the customer owning a computer printer) or given to the Guest at time of sale, craft booklets are the perfect thing to keep the Build-A-Bear spark alive. The more "bonding time" a child associates with their Build-A-Bear, the more alive the bear will seem. Soon, the child will be asking to go to Build-A-Bear not because "I need more stuff!" but because "Fluffy is feeling cold and needs a new sweater" and because "Fluffy has grown out of his old swimsuit and needs a new one" and because "Fluffy's my friend, and I need to help him!"
- Bear clubs: When Bear Bonding fails, socialization will draw a crowd. Build-A-Bear needs clubs - after-school clubs, on-weekend clubs, you name it - but bring your bear! The clubs could take place at Build-A-Bear, and club members wouldn't be pressured to buy anything. They'd be organized by age so that the older members weren't meeting with 8-year-olds, and each age group could do appropriate activities. They'd go through the "Be 100% Pawsome!" program together, they'd read age-appropriate books together, they'd go out for pizza together - they'd do lots of things together. Guests would be given a brochure about the clubs at the time of their purchase, and many mothers are be looking for the right drop-off place for their child. Cost would be minimal or null, and Build-A-Bear would provide a safe environment that encouraged family values. Oh, and the big deal for Build-A-Bear is this: those club members (especially teens) will love to indulge in Build-A-Bear products again and again with the excuse "I was on my way to the club, and I just couldn't resist!"
- Fewer Build-A-Bearville exclusives: Build-A-Bear did the right thing when they allowed Welcome Passes for those guests with older bears, and they did the right thing when they restricted Cub Condo ownership to Build-A-Bear owners. However, I would make that the only restricted option. Have a non-Build-A-Bear owner visit a friend's Cub Condo enough, and they'll want one just like it. After they have their Cub Condo - the original reason they went to the physical Build-A-Bear - they'll begin to see Build-A-Bear's real purpose. And they'd see the love, the family time, the new friend, and they'd want to come back. All of this would happen simply because of Build-A-Bearville. After all, they're more likely to be playing on a website that's welcoming them ("Anyone can come and play on 99% of this website for free!!!!") as opposed to rejecting them ("What? No purchase? Oh, no, you can't survive here without a purchase! Yes, it says its free, but that's only 45% of the website. You have to pay for the rest.")
With these three Build-A-Bear improvements alone Build-A-Bear can make much more money. Shifting the direction of the website will not be seen as "Oh, we made a mistake" so much as it will be seen as "We love our customers so much, we decided to give you even more!" Adding the Build-A-Bear clubs and activity booklets will boost customer support, customer fun, and customer willingness to spend more money. And why shouldn't Build-A-Bear boost those things? It would make money, establish a customer base, and shore up Build-A-Bear's reputation.