Their logos might melt the soft part of your heart, but two companies with teddy bear mascots had hard announcements for their customers last week.
Let’s start with the most popular bear company, Build-A-Bear Workshop.
The St. Louis-based company has permanently closed its location at the Saint Louis Zoo. Build-A-Bear didn’t want to go, but the zoo had the final say in the matter, according to a Build-A-Bear spokeswoman.
“We are disappointed at the zoo’s decision to re-utilize our store space and disheartened that we were unable to identify a mutually beneficial solution for a new location, despite multiple efforts,” Build-A-Bear President and CEO Sharon Price John said in a statement. “We will truly miss making memories with families and zoo patrons.”
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The zoo expects to put a new retail shop in its place.
“It’s disappointing that a mutually beneficial solution wasn’t achieved with Build-A-Bear Workshop,” said Billy Brennan, Director of Public Relations at the Saint Louis Zoo. “Construction will begin soon to create new retail space at this location. More information on this will be available later.”
It’s a “beary” sad day for Build-A-Bear.
Local day care suddenly closes
After 11 years in Freeburg, Lighthouse Learning Center, where “Leonard the Bear” is the mascot, closed its doors last week.
Owner Mary Kay Prader said the 175-year-old building on South Alton Street had become “a money pit” in recent years.
Lighthouse has spent thousands on upkeep and maintenance. On top of that, the Freeburg location recently lost its Head Start funding from the state.
The program, according to Prader, decided that its grant money would have more effect in different parts of St. Clair County. The loss of support was not performance based.
Prader’s other locations in Waterloo, Columbia and Cahokia will remain open. Her first location opened 20 years ago in Columbia. The most recent location opened in 2015 on Jerome Lane in Cahokia.
Closing the Freeburg center, Prader said, wasn’t an easy decision, but it couldn’t be avoided after the business did everything it could to stay open.
Prader stopped paying herself about a month ago to save money. Lighthouse had layoffs, then remaining staffers took pay cuts.
Lighthouse Learning Center serves about 450 children in two counties and four different cities in Southern Illinois. About 50 children were enrolled at the Freeburg center.
“The children have always been the number one reason we have done this for twenty years,” Prader wrote. “The short notice to families was not out of evil intent or trickery. We didn’t announce the closure of the center sooner because we tried so many ways to save it, but to no avail.”
Edwardsville costume rental shop closes
Judy Koen, a longtime costume maker in Edwardsville, has closed the rental side of her business on South Fillmore Street.
During an interview with the News-Democrat in 2016, Koen said the business wasn’t as profitable as it once was because of all the other ways people can buy Halloween costumes.
“I make about 50 percent less every year I’m open,” she said. “I think the satellite stores, things that are at the mall, the Internet — in this busy day and age, they can just drop it off on your door step ... that’s affected me tremendously. It’s been a struggle. It’s not really a moneymaker anymore.”
Judy’s Costumes continued on because Koen enjoyed the work. She still plans to make costumes in her retirement.
“It’s just more of a passion,” Koen said in 2016. “It’s fun, you know? I enjoy it.”
One more thing ...
The popular downtown restaurant Seven Belleville at 7 High Street is teaming up with local businesses to collect donations for the Belleville Area Humane Society.
Here’s what they need: Kennel Sol, Pine-Sol, bleach, hose sprayers, laundry detergent, draw sting garbage bags (13, 30 and 55 gallons), flea and trick preventative, postage stamps, letter No. 10 envelopes, copy paper, paper towels, and gift cards to PetSmart, Fuel, Amazon and Target.
Donations can be dropped at the following locations in Downtown Belleville: Beatniks, Dog Day Afternoon, Eckerts Florist, Keil’s Antiques and Gifts, Local Lucy's, Rising Star Monogram Boutique, Righteous Pig Barbecue, Toot’s Cake and Candy supplies and the Olive Oil Marketplace.
A fundraising bike ride, “Pedal 4 Pooches,” will be held at 10 a.m. Sept. 24 on the first block of South High Street in Belleville.
To register for ride, call Seven Belleville at 277-6700. A block party to celebrate the Humane Society kicks off at 1 p.m. Sunday.
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