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Four employees of Minneapolis' Wild Rumpus took the reins of the animal-packed bookstore this month — almost literally, considering a horse once joined the shop's famous menagerie.

Collette Morgan, who co-founded the charming Linden Hills shop in 1992, told Publishers Weekly that after 30 years in business, she shared her retirement plans with her staff. A small group of employees expressed interest in taking over. Timothy Otte, Jessica Fuentes, Beth Wilson and Anna Hersh, who are in their late 20s to mid-30s, were longtime Wild Rumpus customers before becoming employees.

The four didn't really want the bookstore (and its two chinchillas, named Newbery and Caldecott, plus two cats, a cockatiel, dove and 11 fish) to go to a stranger, Hersh said.

"We thought, 'Hey, why not us?' Each of us is totally devoted to the store and continuing the Wild Rumpus legacy."

The legacy was established by Morgan and her then-husband Tom Braun. The two continued their business partnership after their divorce, until his death in 2018. The store's whimsical design (including a pint-size, door-within-the-front-door), large book selection and robust programming quickly made it a local family favorite.

But Wild Rumpus' animal inhabitants were what really set it apart: It's perhaps the only bookstore in the country that's also licensed as a pet shop.

The best known among the animals were likely the free-roaming chickens, the last of which recently retired to a hobby farm. Those chickens played a part in at least one couple's decision to move to Minneapolis. Though Morgan's horse likely wasn't asked back to the shop after memorably relieving itself during an event for a book about horses.

The new owners don't plan to change the formula that led Wild Rumpus to become the first children's bookstore to be named Publishers Weekly's Bookstore of the Year in 2017.

"We may update some things in the store," Hersh said, "but mainly we want to continue making it a wild, wondrous, and welcoming place for kiddos and kids at heart."