My niece recently turned 5 and I found myself at another one of her birthday parties. I don’t have children of my own, so these gatherings are rare for me, unlike the parents in attendance at this party who seem to go to one or two every weekend. You may recall I photographed Emerson’s 4th birthday party last year at Chuck E. Cheese’s and while I was shooting this year, I decided that this is definitely going to be part of a 6-year series on children’s birthday parties in America. Our traditions converge sharply with our consumerist tendencies and children’s birthday parties are no exception. I had only a passing familiarity with Build-A-Bear, but upon further inspection, the place has basically obtained a license to print money. Kids love stuffed animals and customizing their toys, and this place offers both along with a whole interactive party that gives their new toys origin stories and actual hearts. Seriously, they pick out little satin hearts to put inside the bears before they’re sewed up. The real money-making part of the operation, though, is the accessories you can purchase for the new stuffed animals. You want a Redskins cheerleader costume for your new bear? Done. Army camo attire? Yeah, they got that. Hipsterbear? Just a matter of the correct sartorial choices. My nephew is too young to care about these things just yet, but his time is nigh.