Spokane Journal of Business

Book & Game Co. eyes options for two stores

Sales of Paper Garden, MerlynÂ’s were discussed; other outletsÂ’ futures mulled

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The Book & Game Co., of Spokane, which owns and operates a small chain of retail stores, including Aunties Bookstore downtown, has discussed possible sales of two of its operationsMerlyns Science Fiction-Fantasy Store and the Paper Garden.

Shannon Ahern, who owns the 20-year-old company with his sister-in-law, Chris OHarra, declines to comment on the future of Aunties or the companys other businesses, though he does say the company is looking at options. Ahern says he and OHarra dont have a timeline for selling Merlyns or Paper Garden.

A group of Merlyns employees made a recent offer to buy that store, but it wasnt accepted, Ahern says. Merlyns, which leases space downtown at 1 N. Browne, sells science fiction and fantasy books and games and employs four.

Dave Smith, Merlyns manager, says he wasnt involved in the purchase attempt, but believes there is a companywide interest in employee ownership of the Book & Game Co.s stores.

The Paper Garden, a stationery shop, occupies part of the second floor of the Liberty Building, at 402 W. Main, and employs four people, Ahern says. He says the Book & Game Co. would sell the Paper Garden because it doesnt really fit with the companys overall business. The Book & Game Co. told the shops manager that it would sell the shop to her, but she declined to make an offer on it, Ahern says.

The Liberty Building also houses Aunties and another of the Book & Game Co.s operations, Uncles Games & Puzzles Etc. Ahern and OHarra own the four-story Liberty Building.

In addition to Aunties, Merlyns, the Paper Garden, and Uncles, the Book & Game Co. owns and operates Book & Game outlets at the Silver Lake Mall in Coeur dAlene, in Lewiston, Idaho, Bend, Ore., and Walla Walla, Wash.

Aunties now faces potentially stiff competition from Barnes & Noble, the big New York-based bookstore chain, which plans to open a store near the Spokane Valley Mall and also reportedly had looked at putting a store at NorthTown Mall. Another bookstore chain, Borders Inc., also has been rumored to be looking at the Spokane market.

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