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Marlene and Tom England

Local Maryland retailers are making a global impact

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Whatever our customers purchase at the Curious Iguana has an impact far beyond our little shop on Market Street.
Marlene and Tom England
Curious Iguana

To succeed in retail today, you have to be exceptional – not only with the product or service you’re selling, but also in the experience you provide and the community you create and nurture. After opening our second retail store, we’re more conscious of this now than ever before.

More than a decade ago, we opened a neighborhood toy store in downtown Frederick, Maryland, and always felt that we had a responsibility to support the community that sustains us. Over the years, we’ve helped local schools and nonprofits that assist children and families in need. But we always dreamed of doing more, and wanted to expand our focus to include giving internationally.

At the same time, our customers kept telling us how much they want an independent bookstore in the neighborhood. As we were deciding whether or not to take the plunge with a second store, we learned about benefit corporations. It’s a perfect fit for us, since we want Curious Iguana to be positioned from the start as a unique company that does well by doing good.

World map at Curious Iguana

The new store opened in September 2013, and is set up to share proceeds with international nonprofits that are making a world of difference. Curious Iguana staff and customers help us select recipients of Kiva microfinance loans, and we mark the global locations on a world map behind the counter. Many customers ask about the map, and it gives us an opportunity to show where our donations have had an impact so far. It seems to resonate with customers that where they shop and what they buy really does make a difference. Whether it’s a fair trade keychain or the latest indie bestseller, whatever our customers purchase at the Iguana has an impact far beyond our little shop on Market Street.

Inside the Curious Iguana

We always wanted to be entrepreneurs, and we’ve always been passionate about retail. As much as we’re excited about bringing a new store to downtown Frederick, we’re even more excited about connecting with a community of people who care about the world we share. It sounds trite, but it’s true: Even the smallest efforts can have a positive impact.

Marlene and Tom England own and operate Curious Iguana and Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts in historic downtown Frederick, Md.