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Auntie’s to close store in River Park Square

Spokane-based Auntie’s Bookstore announced it will close its River Park Square shop, ending a three-year effort to gain new shoppers there.

The lease for its second-floor location in the downtown mall ended last fall. Auntie’s will vacate the space Jan. 31.

The company’s central store, at 402 W. Main Ave., is not affected, said company founder Chris O’Harra. O’Harra said Auntie’s will continue running a shop in the Spokane airport.

“I still think there’s a market to sell books at the mall,” she added. “We just weren’t able to develop it there.” She surmised the relative nearness to the main store affected sales at River Park Square.

It did best in selling children’s books, O’Harra said, in large part because the mall location had been the longtime space used by Children’s Corner Bookshop.

The mall has not yet identified a new tenant for the location. River Park Square is owned and operated by Cowles Co., which also owns and publishes The Spokesman-Review.

Choice to lead SBA has business range

NEW YORK – The woman nominated to be the next head of the Small Business Administration has spent decades working with small companies and did a stint in state government.

Maria Contreras-Sweet was introduced by President Barack Obama on Monday as his choice to lead the SBA. If confirmed by the Senate, Contreras-Sweet will succeed Karen Mills, who left the SBA at the end of August.

Contreras-Sweet has a wide range of experience having been a business owner, founder of a Latino-owned community bank and a former California cabinet secretary. She’s also been an advocate for Hispanics.

Wal-Mart accused of labor violations

WASHINGTON – Federal officials have filed a formal complaint charging that Wal-Mart violated the rights of protesting and striking workers last year.

The National Labor Relations Board said Wal-Mart illegally fired, disciplined or threatened more than 60 employees in 14 states for participating in legally protected activities to complain about wages and working conditions.

The labor board’s general counsel first laid out the charges last November, but held off on filing a complaint while trying to work out a settlement with Wal-Mart. The company has insisted its actions were legal and justified.

The complaint will go before an administrative law judge. If Wal-Mart is found liable, it could be required to award workers back pay, reinstatement and reverse any disciplinary action.