My Account

Red Balloon Story

Red Balloon Bookshop 2014Red Balloon Bookshop has been connecting children, teens, and adults in the Twin Cities area with great books and great authors for 30 years.

Carol Erdahl and Michele Cromer-Poire opened Red Balloon Bookshop in 1984, just four doors to the east of our current location. When they were looking for a name, someone suggested “Red Balloon,” and the imaginative story with the flying balloon had just the right appeal. By 1989, the business had expanded and needed a new space, so Carol & Michele created a new building and moved the bookshop to its current location.

Thanks to a series of very fortunate events, Holly Weinkauf became the new owner of Red Balloon in August  2011 when Carol and Michele retired. Red Balloon continues to inspire children and adults with a great selection of books, toys, and gifts, through author and illustrator events, and by offering a fun and exciting place to connect with other readers and book-lovers.



Because of our love of reading and fun, Red Balloon Bookshop is dedicated to serving our community with books, gifts  and events that inspire, inform and entertain, helping children of all ages—and adults!—live imaginative and rich lives.



Barb Bassett—Buyer

Barb has called the Red Balloon her home since 1997. Before that, she worked in several bookstores in her native Fargo, ND. She can’t remember when she didn’t love books and reading, and kept D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths checked out from the school library for the whole of her 4th grade year. She particularly loves children’s books (all types), food literature, travel essays, mysteries, and anything about the Tudors, but she can safely say she has (almost) never met a book she didn’t like.


Dara Dokas—Bookseller, Storyteller

Dara has been a bookseller at Red Balloon since 2017. Previously, she worked at Micawber’s Books for five years as a bookseller and children’s book buyer. She is also a writer with three children’s books published. She is working on her MFA at Hamline University and teaches classes at The Loft Literary Center. Dara loves working at Red Balloon where she leads story time for young children, hangs out with children’s book enthusiasts, and helps customers find just the right book.


Susan Hepburn—School Accounts Coordinator

Susan has been with Red Balloon since 1992. She has a BA in Theology but her work life has been devoted to print: book publishing, two magazines, and now bookselling. Her favorite books growing up were Make Way for Ducklings, Christopher Columbus by the D’Aulaires, and the Little House Series. She loves customer contact, whether at the counter or in the process of handling school orders.  


Jim Malody—Receiver, etc.

Resident troglodyte/receiver since 1989, enjoying Christmas everyday as he unboxes new ideas (i.e. books and toys) to help wee ones fight ennui. And other stuff. 


Stacy Mellenbruch—Bookseller

Stacy has been a bookseller at Red Balloon since 2016. There are many great reasons to work at an indie bookshop, but one of the coolest things about her job is the chance to meet all of the amazing authors and illustrators. Her favorite genre to read is contemporary young adult fiction. When she isn't working, Stacy is reading, writing, painting, or exploring


Kelsie Pates—Bookseller

Kelsie has been obsessed with books for as long as she can remember. After working at a bookstore in Woodbury for two years, she moved to St. Paul and now happily shares an apartment with her very own grumpy cat, Pickle. She is a student in the Twin Cities, and divides her time between selling books, reading, and school. The best parts of her job are making displays, working events, and sharing her favorite books with customers. 


Julie Poling—Toy & Gift Buyer, Bookfair Coordinator

Julie has been with Red Balloon since 1989. She raised her kids on the books she loves to sell. Now that they are out of college, she has stayed among the young adult books, especially sci/fi and fantasy. If your school has a book fair with Red Balloon, Julie will pick out the books. That and buying toys for the store are her two favorite parts of her job. She leads the Not-So Young Adult Book Club. Julie is also a Certified Wine Professional.


Beth Spencewood—Bookseller

Beth has been with Red Balloon since January of 2017. She has an MFAC from Hamline University and loves both reading and writing young adult fiction. As a parent to a 1 year old she is also quite well versed in board books. She loves going with authors to visit schools, handing out red balloons, and being around the smell of books. She lives in South Minneapolis with her spouse, son and very lovey cat.


Dawn Toboja—Bookseller

Dawn has been with Red Balloon for almost 17 years.  She is also a first grade teacher at Faithful Shepherd Catholic School. Working here helps her to find so many wonderful books to read to her students, and they love them all.  Dawn’s favorite part of her job is finding just the right book for that special customer, and organizing the board book section.  When she isn’t working she loves to cook new recipes, spend time with friends, read, and drink coffee.  


Joan Trygg—Manager

Joan has been part of the Red Balloon staff since 2004. Before coming here, she worked at Hungry Mind/Ruminator Books for four and a half years, and at B. Dalton for nine years. She is a writer (she has an MFA from Hamline Univeristy) and a grammar nerd, and is obsessed with Doctor Who, Trampled by Turtles, and her five grandchildren. But if you come into the store to chat, she’ll talk with you about her most enduring obsession—books.


Lillian Tschudi-Campbell—Events and Marketing Assistant, Webmaster

Lily has been at the Red Balloon since the fall of 2015. She has an MFAC from Hamline University and is working on writing her very own books. Lily's favorite part of her job is talking to kiddos about the books they love most (and handing out balloons!). Her least favorite part is having to remember how the alphabet works. When she isn't at work or in the middle of reading an excellent book, Lily is hanging out with her incredibly demanding (and incredibly fluffy) cat, cooking up some pasta, and watching sci-fi/fantasy/space westerns.


Holly Weinkauf—Owner

Holly has always loved books and working with kids and families, so in many ways this is her dream job. She knows books and stories add much to all of our lives. At Red Balloon she combines her passion for kids and books with a commitment to small business and community. Holly has a Masters Degree in Library Science from UCLA. She has worked as a children’s librarian, an elementary school teacher, and a childbirth instructor. When not at Red Balloon or reading, Holly is listening to music, sweating at a hot yoga class, and spending time with her family and friends. She lives in St. Paul with her husband, Don, and 3 teenage children, Madeline, Eli, and Roan.


Angela Whited—Events & Marketing Manager, Storyteller 

Angela joined the good ship Red Balloon in the fall of 2014, and assumed the job of Fairy Godmother of Events in 2015. She studied creative writing at Macalester College and has been loudly supervising kids and teens for almost two decades. She loves getting to know fans and authors at events; dramatic readings of picture books (and dust jacket copy); all the great books about princesses, witches, unicorns, creepy trees, and/or spaceships; and hanging out with the singing animal puppets that come to storytime. Angela lives in South Minneapolis with her husband, Chris, and their menagerie: Charlie Cat, Scout Fincheater, Tess of the Baskervilles, and Shepherd Book (the dog).