The Friends of the Fox Board of Directors provides the following statement regarding the temporary closure of the Little Fox Shop. Please see this Job Posting as we seek to open the store as soon as possible!
Dear fellow Friends of the Fox Branch Library and Little Fox Shop:
In recent days there has been misinformation circulating about the closure of the Little Fox Shop. We are sorry that this is the case, as closing the shop was not our preferred course of action. We certainly did not make the decision lightly, as we know closing the shop for any length of time would impact volunteers, donors, and customers. Unfortunately the Board has not been provided access to the Little Fox Shop Facebook page, website, or volunteer list, which has created a barrier to communications with the larger community, and for this we apologize.
Our intention is to make sure the Shop continues to provide secure and ongoing benefits to the Fox Branch Library. It is our responsibility as Directors to do all we can to that end.
The volunteers who started the Friends of the Fox (who now serve as volunteer Board members) established the Shop as one of several projects undertaken in an effort to maintain funding for the Fox Library. We secured space from the Town, obtained start-up inventory from a now-defunct PTO Thrift Shop, and interviewed and retained the original managers. We obtained 501(c)3 nonprofit status through a months-long process with legal counsel.
For the past 10 years we have supported the Shop managers in every instance, from providing regular increases in stipends on request under their status as independent contractors, to paying others to be onsite during hours of the week when volunteers are harder to schedule.
In late 2017, the Board took on a review of accounting policies and the role of the Shop manager. We sought advice from our regular pro-bono lawyer and two local CPAs on best management practices for the Shop. As a result, we added two items to the managers’ job description: (1) Standard accounting policies and procedures would be followed; and (2) At least one manager would be onsite during Shop hours (an average of 23 hours per week between them). The Board shared with the managers that we would hire an accountant to devise best accounting practices and provide straightforward policies and procedures, to mitigate any additional burden on the managers.
In January of this year, the managers requested $18,000 each, per year, to run the Shop (a 240% increase), with additional increases to be guaranteed over the following several years. In response, the Board offered the managers a 160% increase in their stipend, to $12,000 each, per year, to carry out the job as described. The managers asserted that between them, they could not be onsite during all Shop hours. The Board asked if changing the Shop hours would help, or if we could hire an additional paid management position to be onsite. The managers were not willing to accept either of these options, and in fact could not guarantee that they would be at the Shop during any specific times.
Finally, through a unanimous decision of the Board, we determined that the Shop should be closed until a manager can be retained who can meet all requirements of the new job description. We posted a call for applications today. We have committed to including a representative from the Shop volunteers on the interview committee. We hope to have the search completed and the shop reopened as soon as possible.
We appreciate the community’s ongoing concern about the Little Fox Shop. We know that the managers worked hard to bring the Little Fox Shop to this point, and in fact the current situation is a result of the growth the shop has seen under their management, and with contributions from many volunteers and donors. Indeed, closing the shop is not by any means a judgment on the managers' past work, but rather their inability to step into an expanded role that we deem necessary based on our fiduciary responsibilities as Board members. As a nonprofit, our primary purpose and mission must be to support the Library, and in addition to maintaining Saturday open hours, we look forward to a significant investment in planned library renovations based on the success of the Shop.
Our volunteers and donors are the heart of the Little Fox Shop and we hope you will agree that we all have a shared goal – making the Edith M. Fox Library, Arlington’s only branch library, the best it can be.