Little Fox Shop montage

UPDATED, Aug. 29: After 18 days of silence, the board overseeing the Little Fox Shop has provided its explanation about what led up to the firing of two longtime managers and as many as 20 volunteers.

The 10-year-old resale shop, which raises money to help the Fox Library, closed Aug. 9, and will remain that way until a new team is hired, the board says.

Titled "A Statement from the Board of Directors, and Job Announcement," the explanation, posted to the Friends of the Fox Library website provides these past steps that followed an arc from support to dismissal:

-- "For the past 10 years," it says, "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."

-- Then late last year, the board reviewed accounting policies and the role of the shop managers. After advice from its regular, pro-bono lawyer and two local CPAs on best-management practices, the board added two items to the managers’ job description: follow standard accounting policies and procedures and require one manager be on-site during shop hours (an average of 23 hours per week between the two).

$18,000 raises requested

-- Last January, the managers requested $18,000 each, per year, to run the shop, with additional increases guaranteed in the following several years. In response, the board offered the managers a 160-percent increases, to $12,000 each, per year. The hiring managers said that between them, they could not be on-site during all shop hours. The board asked whether changing shop hours or adding a paid manager would help. "The managers were not willing to accept either of these options," it says, "and in fact could not guarantee that they would be at the Shop during any specific times."

To follow-up queries, Board Chair Pam DiBona wrote that no particular incident led to a review of accounting policies and that the stipend for each manager was $7,500 this year. Three others at the shop are paid.

-- The board decided unanimously that the shop be closed until a manager meeting all requirements of the new job description is hired. "We posted a call for applications today," it says. "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."

DiBona responded Aug. 28 with a link to the statement. YourArlington made a number of requests for comment, beginning Aug. 10.

Comment about 'misinformation'

The statement refers to "misinformation" circulating about this issue. Asked about that, DiBona noted: "We addressed those in our statement, but especially the circumstances around the founding of the shop, and the claim that we had asked the managers to do more work along with the significant raise we offered. Their ongoing stipend was based on their own estimates of a 12- to 15-hour week of work, so the request to be onsite should not have added any additional hours to their commitment."

The board statement says: "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."

The statement refers to lack of access to the Little Fox Shop Facebook page, website and volunteer list. Asked who controls those, DiBona wrote that the managers do.

Mediation?

Asked whether the sides in this matter consider mediation, DiBona responded: "The Board determined that the fully reasonable requirement of being onsite during shop open hours is not negotiable, and thus mediation would only extend the timeline for setting new best practices in place."

In a related matter, Amy Lee Weitzman posted a plea for help to the Arlington Email List on Monday, Aug. 27:

"I co-founded the Little Fox Shop with my dear friend Susan Dorson, who has been running the store for the last 10 years. It's a store inside the library that sells used clothes, gear, etc. for children & parents. Our mission is to raise funds to support the Fox Branch library. It's been wonderfully successful!

"We partnered with another local non-profit (The Friends of the Fox) that had 501c3 status; this allowed us to open the shop and start raising funds for the library without doing the paperwork to set up our own 501c3.

"Unfortunately, this partnership is no longer working and the shop has temporarily been shut down .... Our partnership with Friends of the Fox was a way to ensure responsible, 501c3-based use of the funds we generated.

"The Friends of the Fox do not own the store, they did not conceive of the idea, nor did they run the shop for the last 10 years. They simply do not have the authority to 'fire' the shop founder and manager and hire someone else. However, if we do not have a 5013c to run the shop under, then the store will have to remain closed until we do."

A petition signed by 671 supporters as of Aug. 29 asks pointed questions about why the shop has closed. 


Friends of the Fox Library board statement about shop

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

Aug. 21, 2018: Fired Little Fox managers offer their side of the story


This news summary was published Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, and updated Aug. 29, with responses from the board chair.