Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, famed for its excellent selection of children’s books, robust programming schedule, and in-store menagerie of live animals, transferred ownership from long-time owner Collette Morgan to four of her eight employees on January 3. The new owners—Timothy Otte, Jessica Fuentes, Beth Wilson, and Anna Hersh—range in age from their late 20s to mid-30s, with a combined 15+ years of bookselling experience. Otte and Wilson have been Wild Rumpus customers since they were children, while Fuentes and Hersh discovered it as young adults.

“I decided to retire after the Wild Rumpus 30th anniversary—30 years in retail and out," Morgan told PW. “The store was back in the black after weathering the Covid closure and my son was not interested in taking over. I definitely put out notice privately that I wanted to find someone to carry the torch, and this quartet of employees came forward with a valid Letter of Intent. My fondest wish!” Morgan declined to disclose the financial terms of the transfer in ownership of the store and its assets to the four booksellers.

Morgan, with her then-husband, the late Tom Braun, opened Wild Rumpus in 1992 in a 1900s-era building in the bucolic neighborhood of Linden Hills after a renovation of the retail space inspired by The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer, about a boy whose bedroom turns into the outdoors. From the beginning, Wild Rumpus housed animals—some of them in cages or tanks, others wandering freely about the store.

“I’d read all the horror stories about starting a small business and having to work 80 hours a week,” Morgan told PW in 2017, when the store was named PW’s Bookstore of the Year—a year after winning the Pannell Award in the specialty children's bookstore category. “I’m the kind of person who likes to be around animals. If I was going to work that hard, I wanted some animals around.”

Otte, who has worked at Wild Rumpus for the past three years, told PW: "Of course, the menagerie is sticking around. We four are all book and animal people. That’s what brought us together.” Currently two cats, two chinchillas, a cockatiel, a dove, and a tank full of fish reside inside the store, which is licensed as a municipal pet store and undergoes regular city animal control inspections—perhaps the only bookstore in America to do so.

Known for hosting some wildly unconventional in-store events, one of the more infamous events at Wild Rumpus involved Morgan’s horse, brought by her into the store during an event featuring a book about horses. When the horse lifted its tail to relieve itself, the crowd scattered. Otte disclosed that a photo taken during the incident still hangs on a wall in the building.

“The store has such a particular vibe,” Otte said, “It’s pretty much a product of the work of Collette Morgan and Tom Braun: that’s their legacy. Our goal is to be the kind of place where you can find a book, pet a cat, and be interrupted by birds while you are reading. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put on other outrageous events like the one with the horse.”

As for Morgan, she says that she has "a TBR pile to last me the next 30 years" that she can now get to. “I have not ‘not worked’ since I was 16 years old, so it is quite a transition, but I think I’ll relish the time,” she added, “I’m especially enthusiastic about the new owners coming in with new ideas and creative energy. I couldn’t ask for a better swan song.”