Posted on Jun 21, 2021
Whether it’s putting a little play in your day at the toy store, or opening new worlds through books, Tom and Marlene England have a heart for what they’re doing. And after more than 20 years, they’ve seen the benefits of local businesses supporting one another in Downtown Frederick. That’s why they trust FCB Bank, a community bank committed to our hometown.
Every business has a story—this one starts with a career change.
Before the toy store, there was a government job
Before becoming business owners, Tom worked as a government scientist and Marlene worked in PR, marketing, and development.
“I was doing a lot of traveling and the way I would relax and wind down in the evenings is I would go down to my shop and I would make toys,” said Tom. “After my project ended, [the government] said either I moved somewhere where I didn't want to go, or I quit. So, I quit.”
With experience selling Tom’s toys on the craft show circuit, the Englands decided their next move was to open a retail space.
“We didn't want to wonder if this crazy idea we had about a battery-free kid’s store would work. So, we just jumped in with both feet and we tried it,” said Marlene. “I think people thought we were a little crazy to take on something like that. Particularly at that time when the trend was moving away from non-battery-operated things to more digital kinds of toys.”
Dancing Bear opened in September 2000, and has remained true to its battery-free roots.
“From day one, our motto has always been: A child should always tell a toy what to do, the toy should never tell a child what to do,” said Tom.
Beginning the bookstore: the tale behind Curious Iguana
With the success of Dancing Bear, the Englands fell in love with retail and wanted to start their next chapter.
“We had thought originally about doing another Dancing Bear Toys in another location,” said Marlene. “We had looked at other downtowns, but nothing felt like it was a good fit. Nothing felt like Frederick. That’s our community.”
So, they asked friends, neighbors, and customers what their second Frederick shop should be. The overwhelming answer: open a bookstore.
“I’ve always loved books. I was a freelance copywriter for years and years, so my passion has always been the written word. When we determined that there was such strong community support for a bookstore for all ages, I was thrilled.”
After Dancing Bear moved to its current location on East Patrick Street, Tom and Marlene opened Curious Iguana in its place.
A Heart for Business and the Community
Both Dancing Bear and Curious Iguana are local favorites, and it’s easy to see why. Tom, Marlene, and the teams at both stores create a joyful and unique experience for their customers.
Whether it’s recommending books, inviting kids to play with display toys, hosting events, or using their windows to celebrate inclusivity, Tom and Marlene have a heart for what they are doing.
Even the spaces themselves have heart. Both the Dancing Bear poster hanging above the fireplace and the peace lily in the window of the toy shop were opening day gifts from Marlene’s parents. Tom and his father built the stage and small house in Curious Iguana and the bells on the door have special meaning for Marlene.
“I come from a small business family. My parents owned a gas station in Martinsburg, West Virginia and there were always these wonderful bells on their front door and they’re now over at Curious Iguana. So, every time the door opens, I hear the bells that used to ring in my parents’ gas station.”
Having a heart for the community makes Downtown Frederick a unique place for businesses.
“Downtown businesses, they support one another in almost every aspect,” said Tom. “We work together to get people downtown. We do everything we can to get people downtown and then the more people that are downtown the better it is for every single business. Downtown Frederick is the most unique downtown on the face of the Earth.”
“We have seen so many changes in downtown Frederick since 2000,” said Marlene. “I could never have imagined how it could get even better and we thought it was great in 2000. And it’s just grown and thrived and I feel like the sense of community in downtown Frederick has gotten even stronger over the last two decades.”
FCB Bank shares the same community spirit
“FCB has been our bank even since before Dancing Bear opened. And I think there’s a lot to be said for having a bank in the community that’s been with you from day one. They share a love of our business, and understand the history, and those kinds of relationships are hard to come by,” said Marlene. “It’s nice to have them on our corner. It’s nice to have them in our corner too.”
FCB Bank is committed to our shared community and local businesses like Dancing Bear and Curious Iguana. Whether it’s day-to-day banking needs, financing for special projects, or merchant services, we are here for you.
“It’s very reassuring to know that our bank is just a few steps away from our business, and we can drop by anytime with a question or a concern. I think there’s a great comfort in knowing they’re there for us if we need them. We’re not a number with FCB, we’re neighbors, literally and figuratively.”
If you’re a local business owner, let FCB Bank be part of your story.
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When you bank locally, you are investing in the success and prosperity of our community, just like when you shop at local stores, eat at local restaurants, and support local nonprofits. Banking local is part of your voice on what’s important to you and an opportunity to be part of a larger movement with a big impact.
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When you choose a community bank for your checking and savings, mortgage or loan, or for your local business, you are automatically doing something good for our shared community. And you’ll enjoy great customer service, competitive products, and the convenient locations you need.
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