Susanne Dorson came in the LABRARY with her family.

Son pictured here:

We got to talking and she told me about the amazing shop she co-founded just down the road in Arlington called The Little Fox Children's Resale Shop, aka The Little Fox Shop.  So Annie and I finally took a field trip.

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They've really got an amazing thing going there, a bulleted list of things we learned.

The space:

  • The space is attached to the Edith Fox Library in Arlington, MA.
  • The room was never used by the library however, it previously housed the town depts., so it's not taking up library space
  • It's large (stroller friendly is key they've learned)
  • A Professional look and display is important to sales

It's a symbiotic relationship, all money goes to the library.  The impact is amazing:

  • keeps the library open on Friday, one extra day each week
  • a new paint job for the library
  • new blinds
  • computer tables
  • non-fiction kids books, among other collections purchases made by…
  • bean bag chairs
  • furniture re-upholstery
  • sing-alongs
  • signage

Beyond bringing in money, Little Fox Shop relies entirely on volunteers for operations, a unique community building opportunity:

  • expecting-mother volunteers meet new mothers (while also learning about the who world of baby clothes and gear)
  • volunteer parents can bring kids along while they work
  • senior citizens stay connected to folks of all ages, and vice versa— intergenerational

From the moment I heard about LFS, it's stuck with me.  It's such a complementary use of space with a library.  Parents come in for a lapsit or sing along, afterwards they wander into the Fox Shop where children can play with toys while they can shop or just hang out and play too.

It's an interesting thing when libraries, or services in them, begin to sell things. Is this erosion?  Some uses of space seem less so.  A coffee shop can be a natural fit.  Children's resale shops feel like a fit too.  Perhaps the second hand nature, the grassroots beginnings, the kid's orientation, plus the free-to-play policy feels sufficiently gentle.  I don't feel like the Edith Fox Branch "sold out" or something.

As Susanne pointed out, for libraries faced with closure or dramatic reduction in programming and hours, an entrepreneurial approach to problem-solving doesn't hurt.