SAN MATEO (CBS SF) — Across the Bay Area and the country, Build-A-Bear stores were stuffed with customers for promotion that seems to have gotten out of hand.

“Pay Your Age Day,” in which guests who build a teddy bear are asked how old they are and pay that amount, has resulted in shopping malls across the country flooded with parents and kids seeking to take advantage.

A security guard at Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo speaks on a cellphone while observing a line of people waiting to enter Build-A-Bear workshop. (CBS)

The customizable stuffed animals usually retail for $25 or more, but during the promotion anyone who brought a child would only have to pay as much as the child’s age. So a parent with a 2-year-old could get a coveted bear for just $2.

To take part, however, parents or guardians had to enroll in a no-cost Build-A-Bear Bonus Club rewards program by giving the retailer a valid email address and name. The company previously said stores will let customers buy a stuffed animal and come back another time to “build” it when the workshop is less hectic.

The promotion resulted in massive lines at stores nationwide, prompting the company to close the lines and release a statement on its website: “Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our locations due to crowds and safety concerns. We have closed lines in our U.S. and Canada stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible.”

In San Mateo, the cancellation of the promotion came too late for people at Hillsdale Shopping Center, some who lined up before dawn and still had hopes of going home with a bear despite the cancellation. “Definitely a lesson in patience,” said one mother waiting at Hillsdale. “Did not anticipate this huge crowd or wait time, but the things we do for our kids, right?”

The Hillsdale Build-A-Bear store decided to stick with the promotion even after the company cut it off. The store was closed temporarily for workers to clean the store and to reopen for promotion-seekers until 9 p.m.

People who missed taking advantage of the Pay Your Age promotion were offered a $15 coupon toward a future purchase.

Many people were disappointed and blamed the company for poor planning on its Facebook page.

“Build-a-bear Workshop. This was an incentive for those who are bonus club members. You should have never advertised it to the general public and only emailed invites out to bonus club members,” one commenter wrote.

“This clearly was NOT thought out,” said another. “You would have been far better off sending out a coupon to all BAB members for a one time pay your age bear per family member to be used in the month of July. I guarantee you would have had so many less problems.”

Build-A-Bear Workshop has more than 400 stores worldwide.