By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Great Debate Books will close by around the end of the year unless a buyer comes forward.
Randy and Char Stocker have operated the store at 535 Maine for four-and-a-half years. They say the decision to close is not easy.
"A combination of three things contributed to this," Randy Stocker said. "Technology has hurt us, with people using iPads (or other book readers) and buying fewer hardbound books. We have a beautiful 9-year-old daughter who my wife wants to spend more time with. In addition, when we started, there weren't six or eight coffee shops downtown. Now there is a lot more competition" in that area.
The store in the Maine Center is "a prime location" with solid foot traffic, Stocker said. He said it is available for a minimal investment.
Special sales on books will start Monday. In addition, shelving and other business equipment may be sold in coming weeks.
Stocker said sales increased for the first three years the couple owned the shop. Sales are down somewhat this year, but the business remains profitable.
"We've really appreciated our loyal customers," he said.
Chester's Chicken has opened in Carthage, Ill.
The new outlet is one of 16 joint operations with Chester's in partnership with Circle K in Midwestern convenience stores.
"Everybody sells candy bars, gas and snacks, but not everyone sells fresh fried chicken," said James Venable, Chester's vice president of store operations, in a news release.
Chester's has 1,900 franchised locations in North America.
Quincy municipal Parking Lot I at Sixth and Hampshire, is open after months of work.
Travis Brown, executive director of the Historic Quincy Business District, greeted the reopening of free all-day parking in the central business district as a boost for shoppers and merchants in the area.
Laverdiere Construction of Macomb did the resurfacing. The installation of lights and planting of trees is yet to be completed.
The city has been improving other parking areas in the downtown, as well.
The National Retail Federation reported early last week that 147 million shoppers were expected to hit stores during the three-day weekend after Thanksgiving. That would be down from the 152 million shoppers who turned out last year. ... Ninety-seven percent of merchants who sell online planned to offer sales during Thanksgiving weekend. That was a big jump from the 90 percent who did so last year. ... Five of the largest U.S. banks have provided $26.1 billion in relief through September to 300,000 borrowers, said Joseph Smith, a former North Carolina banking commissioner who is monitoring customer relief on behalf of borrowers. ... Investigations have been opened into 19 financial companies for what federal regulators call misleading advertisements concerning violations of new mortgage advertising rules. Thirty-two other firms are being warned that their ads make false claims about connections with a government program. ... Bucks Consultants announced in its 2013 salary report that U.S. workers can expect a 3 percent average raise in the coming year. The report indicates that teachers and government employees will see average 2.1 percent raises. ... Wal-Mart will pay its fourth-quarter dividend in late December to save shareholders big money if Congress does not take action to prevent a hike in income taxes on the payment. The current tax rate on dividends is 15 percent. It could rise to 39.6 percent.
Previously owned homes sold at a higher rate in October, even with the disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy. The rate was up 2.1 percent from September, to an annual rate that translates into 4.79 million sales.
Mexico is now graduating 130,000 engineers every year, which is more than the United States. Mexico is third internationally for information technology services and could soon move ahead of the Philippines to trail only India as an IT market.
Ratings agency Fitch estimates that the "fiscal cliff" could push unemployment back to 10 percent or higher and trigger a recession.
"The federal budget must be put on a path to sustainability that can clearly withstand any changes in the political winds that may occur in 2014, in 2016, and beyond. This means additional revenues will need to be raised, including from businesses, by broadening the tax base while reducing the top rates."
-- Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld, on the need for Congress to come up with a long-term debt reduction plan