It’s been busy at Wild Rumpus.

“This is usually our slower period,” Anna Hersh said on an early afternoon in March. “But we have not had a slow period this year.”

Hersh is one of four new co-owners at the quirky children’s bookstore. Jessica Fuentes, Timothy Otte, Beth Wilson, and Hersh took over ownership of the bookstore in January when longtime owner Collette Morgan retired. Morgan’s announcement and subsequent press coverage led to an influx in business.

“Weekends are absolutely chaotic–and in a fun way. Kids are running around and it’s exciting,” Hersh said.

The bookstore is newsworthy on its own. The front door has a small and tall option. There is a room filled with just Halloween-themed books. Books for adults? Try the section marked “tall.” Customers who look closely will notice smaller charms throughout the store, too.

Wild Rumpus is located at 2720 W 43rd St. in Linden Hills. The entrance has a small door embedded into the tall door. Photo by Melody Hoffmann

Oh, and all the animals.

For our interview, Hersh and I sat on a wooden bench in the back of the bookstore, surrounded by two birds and a pair of snuggling chinchillas. As customers passed by, Hersh made sure to point out where the chinchillas could be found in their cage. Of course we were sitting by all the animals.

The Halloween-themed book room at Wild Rumpus. Photo by Melody Hoffmann

“Shortly after I was hired just as a bookseller, they asked if I wanted to be in charge of all the animals,” Hersh said. “That's a dream come true. Take care of animals and a bookstore.”

Her background in animal care got her the job with a resume quite off the beaten path.  

“I worked with exotic animals in sanctuaries, so my background is mostly primates,” Hersh said. “These animals are a lot more mellow.”

Hersh and the entire bookstore staff take the care of the animals seriously.

The shop cats, Booker T and Eartha Kitt, cuddle in front of the young readers’ graphic novel section. Photo by Melody Hoffmann

“I don't want the animals in here feeling uncomfortable with being here,” Hersh said. For example, one of the birds doesn’t like hands in their cage, so there is a sign asking people to not engage in that behavior with the bird.

“This is their house. We say that to kids a lot,” Hersh said, asking them, “Would you like it if someone came up and stuck their fingers in your home?"

When Wild Rumpus was closed during the pandemic, Hersh visited the animals every day.

The bathroom aquarium at Wild Rumpus. Photo by Melody Hoffmann

Hersh sounds like she will co-own Wild Rumpus for a very long time, if only for the animals.

“We have a couple animals that I think will probably live forever and ever so I will just grow old with them,” Hersh said. The two birds in the store, Dave and Mo, are 27 and 26 years old, respectively. “I think they're just gonna keep on keepin’ on.”

Wild Rumpus has a new friend at the store, a crested gecko named Stinky Cheese Man, who currently lives at the front desk. Hersh said she wants to get rats for the store at some point, but animals usually find their way to them.

The new crested gecko at Wild Rumpus, named Stinky Cheese Man. Photo courtesy of Wild Rumpus

“We don't just go out and buy anything. It depends on finding a rescue animal that also would be comfortable in this environment,” Hersh said.

There is much more to running Wild Rumpus than taking care of the animals. The four co-owners share many duties of running the bookstore: ordering brand new books, reordering books they run out of, running the store’s book clubs, managing the staff and store, payroll, hiring, managing social media, and filling online orders.

“Three of us handle all of our online orders,” Hersh explained. “I keep thinking that number is going to start slowing down. But we still have a whole lot of orders through our website.”

The new bookstore owner said she hasn’t had a chance to catch her breath and reflect on her new position.

“How are you gonna complain about the store, getting a bunch of publicity and being busy right after you take over?” Hersch said. “I think we all are just kind of stunned and feel very fortunate that we get to do this.”