UPDATED, Aug. 23: A petition signed by 553 supporters is asking with pointed questions why the Little Fox Shop, a 10-year-old resale nonprofit that raises money to help the Fox Library, has closed.

Its two veteran managers, fired Aug. 9, and as many as 20 volunteers, are among those asking. The shop staff works with families who donate baby and children’s items and then resold to fund the library.

In interviews, Susan Dorson, a co-founder of the shop in 2008, and Stephanie Murphy, an assistant manager since 2012, provided a timeline of events that led up to the Aug. 10 closing.

In summary, that timeline provides an outline showing that after the Fox Library added Saturday hours last September, work at the shop increased. 

In response, the managers said they asked the board for an increase in their stipend and asked to be paid as employees, having their Social Security paid for. The request for being paid like employees was turned down, and the salary issue was initially ignored, the manager said. 

The next request from the board was that Dorson and Murphy write detailed job descriptions.

Requests for payroll system, raise rejected

Dorson said that last fall she requested a switch of payroll systems and asked for a raise. Both were turned down. She said she was told that the cost for a new system would be too high, and the setup would require taking out Social Security from pay. 

Through winter, the shop continued in its various roles of raising money for the library with resold goods and providing some senior volunteers with community connections. Then, in the spring, the board decided to do performance reviews of both manager.  

No feedback from those reviews were given, Dorson said. Following a review of their job descriptions and the performance reviews, the managers were told they "have to be on-site during all open hours," Dorson said.

Both managers said the request flew in the face of the shop's established culture, under which jobs evolved allowing for flexible hours to accommodate family schedules.

"The board doesn't seem to understand the level of work we do," Dorson said.

No money issues over years

As to money, she said there had been "no issues here in 10 years." She was referring to money missing or anyone taking it.

In May, Dorson said Pam Di Bona, chair of the Friends of the Fox, told her that money and time issues were "nonnegotiable."

Yet, the managers said, no extensive conversations about these issues occurred with the full board since last fall. The board rejected a June 15 managers' request for mediation.

Dorson said Di Bona sat down with Murphy later in June to talk things through. The results of that meeting were brought back to the board, and the board rejected the proposal to cover shop hours between managers and other staff. It was not made clear in that June meeting that there was a possibility of their jobs being terminated, Murphy said.

After that, the managers "thought all was well." In August, Dorson said she was fired via email while on vacation.

She expressed great upset, noting the shop has been an effort into which she pours heart and soul. "I love the volunteers." 

Relationship with library

Dorson cited the "total symbiotic relation the shop has with the library." She said she had been told that circulation at Fox had risen sharply as a result of shop.

The length of the closing is not known. The managers say they have been told they can apply for positions at the shop that they long held.

A note on the Friends of the Fox website says the the shop "is temporarily closed, while we seek a new manager. We are very sorry for the inconvenience, and look forward to opening up soon. In the meantime, please hold on to your donations a little longer! For more information, please contact FoxLibraryFriends[@]gmail.com."

As of 4:50 p.m. Aug. 23, the petition had 553 signers.

YourArlington has asked board members about this beginning Aug. 11 and after, but has received no responses.


 Aug. 20, 2018: Longtime Little Fox managers fired; petitioners want to know why


This news summary was published Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, and updated Aug. 23.