Answers needed from the Friends of the Fox Library Board!

What: A petition from concerned volunteers and community members, asking the Friends of the Fox Library Board to explain their decision to fire the managers of the Little Fox Shop and the associated ramifications to the shop and the library.

To: Friends of the Fox Library Board (FFLB):

Pam DiBona, President
Hilary Rappaport, Secretary
Lynn Baldridge, Treasurer
Shunsuke Yamaguchi
Jack Hurd
Scott Weaver

Background: In 2008, Susan Dorson co-founded the Little Fox Shop with the mission to raise money for the Fox Library to maintain it as a thriving resource for the community. Families in the community generously donate baby and children's items, which are processed by volunteers, and then re-sold to fund sing-a-longs, library hours, library furniture, purchasing of books and videos, etc. Stephanie Murphy joined as a co-manager 6 years ago, and together they've poured their heart and souls into this labor of love, along with approximately 20 volunteers who generously contribute more than 100 hours weekly, sorting thousands of items each week. Susan and Stephanie have contributed thousands of hours of their time to build a thriving store from scratch, working up to 20 hours each per week. They receive a small yearly stipend that works out to below minimum wage for a job they have proven successful at. They receive no health benefits or Social Security contributions.

The Little Fox shop is overseen by the Friends of the Fox Library Board, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit. Over the last 10 years, the FFLB has overseen and been responsible for managing the Fox Shop's profits, but typically is not involved in the day-to-day decisions or logistics of the running of the store.

Within the last couple of months, the board told Stephanie and Susan that they would like more oversight of the shop, and that a manager or assistant manager would need to be on duty for all shifts to ensure proper handling of monies. While they could cover many shifts between them, Susan and Stephanie could not ensure complete coverage of all shifts due to family commitments. They told the board that they fully trusted their volunteers, many whom have worked at the store for years and are so knowledgeable about the shop that the only thing they are lacking is an official "manager" title. Additionally, the majority of purchases are via credit card, so they are traceable.

The board changed Susan and Stephanie's job description to require that one of them be in the shop at all times, and when Susan requested mediation to assist with coming to a mutual resolution, the board voted against it. An individual meeting was set up between Stephanie and one of the board members. At that time, it looked as though there was a plan forward to satisfy the board's wishes for more oversight while allowing Susan and Stephanie to keep their schedules. A few weeks later, Susan and Stephanie were fired (Stephanie in person and Susan via email while she was on vacation). Shop volunteers were emailed by Susan and Stephanie of the closure with one day's notice and then given no more information from the board.

According to the FFLB website (, the board's plan is to hire another shop manager, although the timeline is unclear. Meanwhile, the shop is closed, volunteers are in disarray, and there is potential to jeopardize funding for the Fox library. It is unclear why the board has created this situation when things seemed to be running smoothly.

Lastly, while requiring fiscal accountability from the Little Fox Shop, the board does not publically disclose revenue or expenses to the community.

Effects on the community: Many volunteers and community members (on multiple Arlington Facebook/email lists) are very concerned about the abrupt closure and are interested in obtaining more information about the changes to this beloved resource. Much of the feedback received indicates that people are very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency of the store, and are hoping that Susan and Stephanie will be reinstated.

Aside from the couple of volunteers who were there when Stephanie was notified of the firing, the board did not communicate personally with any of the other volunteers to explain the situation, and this felt very disrespectful to them and their contributions. Volunteers do not know what is happening right now.

The timing of the board's decision is particularly difficult. August/September/October are typically the busiest months of the year with back-to-school, Halloween and winter clothing sales. The closure and future uncertainty, combined with the loss of this revenue, hurts the community directly.

The closure has resulted in student interns being turned away. The Cotting School (a special needs school) and the Little Fox Shop had an agreement for students to work in the store to gain work and life experience. Those students wait without a position for news of the shop reopening.

Overall, it is our concern that the reputation, momentum and profitability of the shop is being jeopardized by this decision.

Questions for the Friends of the Fox Library Board:

1. Susan and Stephanie have a combined 15+ years of managerial experience managing the shop, along with a proven track record of professionalism and efficiency. Why were they fired immediately when the shop is performing well?
2. Given the presumably limited salary or stipend that would be offered to a new manager, how could you ensure that you recruit a person of a similar caliber and competency?
3. Many volunteers have expressed anger and disappointment at being treated so disrespectfully and have indicated that they don't wish to continue working under this board or a new manager. How do you plan to replace volunteers who have taken years to recruit and train? How will you cover the potential loss of up to 100 volunteer hours per week?
4. How much does the temporary closing and possible change in staffing jeopardize the funding resources that the FFLB offers to the library?
5. If you are concerned about two managers not being able to handle the schedule, how would one manager be a better solution? Given your concerns about volunteers being responsible for money, what happens if that manager is sick or on vacation? Who would handle that scenario?
6. How do you plan to notify donors/customers about final decisions, such as when patrons can resume coming to the shop to donate/buy? Do you understand that these people are actively connected with the shop and the staff and this abrupt closure undermines community trust?

Final Request:

That the board notify the community in writing (for example, their website), or via a public town meeting, the answers to the questions listed above.

On behalf of concerned volunteers and community members (see the following signatures).

Update #25 years ago
Thanks to your support, the Little Fox Shop will be reopening on May 11th, under the care of the original managers and volunteers. We are thrilled that your voices helped contribute to this success!

We have one more ask - we need a little help with start up costs as we unexpectedly had to replace nearly everything; including shelves, fixtures and electronics/registers.
Please consider donating; even $5 or $10 helps a lot!
Update #15 years ago
The founders and managers of the Little Fox have written a statement on why the shop is closed and how you can help further! For more info -

Print our form, fill in, and post to social media to show your support for the reopening of the store by Susan and Stephanie -

Please tag us at #takebacklittlefox. Our Instagram is @littlefoxresale

It’s important to emphasize in your post that you want the store reopened by Susan & Stephanie. THANKS!
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