Thursday, August 9, 2012

Twin Cities Bookstores--My Visit to Wild Rumpus.

 I would say of all the bookstores in the Twin Cities and suburbs, the one that is unlike anything anywhere else in the country is Wild Rumpus, located in the Linden Hills neighborhood in Minneapolis. I’d heard Collette talk about the store and it’s animal-filled setting and wild events at several trade shows, but the last time I was in Minnesota, I was still the adult book buyer, and visiting a children’s bookstore was not my highest priority.

Now, it’s certainly a lot more of priority. I host a lot of kids’ events and if bringing in a llama (yes, they’ve done this) might get me more attendees, I’m going to think about it.

Being on the same block as two popular restaurants was probably one of the reasons Wild Rumpus was open past 6 pm on a Saturday, unlike most of the other stores I visited.*It was also quite busy. We watched several kids walk in through the kid-sized door, cut into the traditionally proportioned ingress. Immediately Kirk spotted two cats. We walked in further—there’s a bird. Oh, and over there, it’s a ferret!

Clotheslines strung across the store held kid-friendly book bags. A ladder ended at the ceiling with two legs heading to the second floor, but hey, there isn’t a second floor. Oh, and that lake running along the ceiling with the upside-down canoe, just breathtaking. All this and a store pretty well packed with books.

My eyes were drawn to the Edward Gorey Wild Rumpus tote. I brought it up to the cashier desk and asked the bookseller where the staff recs were. She replied, “Oh, we don’t have a section. Our recommendations are in person. I asked for one, and she offered several, but the one most interesting to me was Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Simon and Schuster), by Benjamin Alire Saenz, initially because it was the only book mentioned that I didn’t previously know.

It’s about two teenage boys who meet at a summer swimming pool. Aristotle is an angry kid with a brother in prison. Dante’s more of a know it all, but both kids are lonely. Dante teaches Ari to swim, and they begin to open up to each other, learn a bit about themselves. Hey , this book is a coming out story, one of those books that used to be in adult sections.

We didn’t have it in our store, but I’m probably going to bring a copy in. And if it’s as good as all the reviewers say, I can think of several people to sell it to. Much thanks!

My only regret about visiting the store so late on a Saturday is that most of the other stores in the neighborhood were already closed. My friend Heidi , knowing that I love good gift shops, really wanted me to get to a Bibelot, one of which was just down the street. Too late, I could only peer in the window. And I wondered why Wild Rumpus didn’t carry that much kids’ nonbook, only to spot Creative Kidstuff on the next block. I hope WR is not avoiding toys, games, and plush out of respect for their competitor, because their competitor had plenty of books.

In all, a fun visit, a new bag, and even a good rec. My only concern about what it would be like to be a bookseller there—it must be a nightmare to clean, what with all those animals. Plus I have allergies.

Just one last stop, at the nearby Linden Hills Coop. Boy, Minneapolis and St. Paul have very nice groceries!

*The University of Minneota store, which I've heard is quite good, closes at 4, but it is summer, after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent write up on WR. It truly is the wildest and most creative kids store in the country, isnt it?