Why is the Little Fox Shop closed right now?

A statement and Q&A from the shop’s founders and managers.

September 14, 2018

We are overwhelmed by the support of the Little Fox Shop by our shoppers, volunteers, and donors. We are working very hard to reopen the shop as soon as possible so we can continue to serve our community and library. Read below to find out more about why we are closed how you can help!

—Susan Dorson (co-founder) & Stephanie Murphy (manager)

How can concerned shoppers, volunteers, library patrons, and donors help support Susan & Stephanie’s reopening of the Little Fox Shop?

What you can do right now is show the libraries and town of Arlington your support for the reopening of the store by it’s co-founder Susan Dorson and manager Stephanie Murphy. We are asking supporters to do this through social media. Fill out one of our cute signs and take a photo of yourself with the sign and post to Facebook and/or Instagram with the hashtag #takebacklittlefox. Please tag us on Instagram at @littlefoxresale and/or post to Little Fox’s Facebook group as well as your own personal feeds. You’re also welcome to encourage others to take a photo and share on any relevant community groups you’re a part of.

Here’s PDF sign for families (starts with ‘we’). Here’s the PDF sign for individuals (starts with ‘I’). Print it, then fill out your name, what do you at the The Little Fox (supporting, shopping, volunteering, donating, loving, enjoying, or any combination), and the year you started visiting the store.

It’s important to emphasize in your support that you want the store reopened by Susan & Stephanie, not just reopened (read below for more on why this is important).

Why is it important that Stephanie and Susan Reopen the Little Fox Shop and not someone else?

Simply put, Susan and Stephanie are the Little Fox. They have created not only an incredibly well organized and stocked store, but a community that supports the library. It’s a place for families to shop, gather, and donate. It’s a place for all kind of people to volunteer— seniors, young people, and anyone looking for a connection and community in today’s increasingly disconnected world.

Who started the Little Fox Shop?

The Little Fox Shop was founded by Susan Dorson and Amy Weitzman. They conceived of the idea, outfitted the space, created operating infrastructure, collected donations, and opened for business on June 11th, 2008.

Who runs the shop now?

Susan Dorson and Stephanie Murphy manage and run the shop together— with the support of 20 incredible volunteers.

How Much Money has The Little Fox Shop Raised?

The Little Fox Shop has generated almost 1 million dollars in sales on behalf the Fox library! We’ve done this though the vision and leadership of Susan Dorson and Stephanie Murphy— and just as important, through the generosity of the community that supports the shop through shopping, volunteering, and donating to the store. We’ve raised this together!

Who are the Friends of the Fox Library?

The Friends of the Fox Library is a non-profit formed by residents of East Arlington that want to make sure that the Fox Library stays open for all to enjoy. Their board members work with the town & libraries to distribute funds raised by the Little Fox Shop and through other fundraising efforts. They’re not part of the Arlington libraries or the Library Board of Trustees. They’re also not the founders of the Little Fox Shop. Friends of the Fox Library is a small, separate non-profit that has approximately 8 active members.

What’s the relationship of the Little Fox Shop to the Friends of the Fox Library?

The Friends of the Fox Library is a non-profit with 501c3 status. They are the fiscal sponsor of the Little Fox Shop. The Little Fox Shop partnered with them in February of 2009 after the store had been in business for 8 months. Fiscal sponsorship is an established way for a new charitable project to receive the non-profit status of an established non-profit. You can read more about fiscal sponsorship here.

Does the Friends of the Fox Library manage operations of the Little Fox Shop?

No. The store has been continuously and exceptionally run by it’s founder, Susan Dorson. The Friends of the Fox Library have never had any role in day to day operations of the Little Fox Shop, and that includes hiring and firing of staff as well as recruiting and training volunteers.

What does Fiscal Sponsorship mean from a practical standpoint?

Fiscal sponsors and the charitable projects they sponsor can structure their partnership in a variety of ways. Ours was that the Little Fox Shop was independently run and operated by its founders and managers. The role of Friends of the Fox in this partnership is to provide the Little Fox with 501c3 status, receive the funds we generated, comply with all government regulations related to those funds (including tax and other required filings), and disburse the funds raised in two main ways— to the town of Arlington for the benefit of the Fox Library and to pay the larger operating expenses of the Little Fox (e.g. staff salaries).

Do Fiscal Sponsors typically manage and have control over their charitable projects?

It depends on the agreement made between the project and the sponsor. In our case, the Little Fox was fully independently run by its founders and managers. The Friends of the Fox Library have not had any control of the store operations at any time since Susan and Amy founded the shop in 2008.

Why Did the Store Close?

The store unexpectedly closed last month after the board members of the Friends of the Fox Library attempted to “fire” Susan Dorson and Stephanie Murphy. With Susan out of the country and Amy unaware of the situation, the keys to the store were given back to the town while this situation gets sorted out.

Why Did the Partnership Between the Little Fox and the Friends of the Fox Breakdown?

This partnership had worked well enough for most of the last 9 years. Earlier this year, Susan and Stephanie requested a raise. The Friends of the Fox Library board denied their request. Shortly thereafter Susan and Stephanie then asked for mediation, which the Friends of the Fox Library declined. On August 10, 2018, the board attempted to “fire” Susan and Stephanie, resulting in the shut down of the store.