Business

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More than 100 Washington businesses are calling for action on climate change and urging others to join them.

Companies including Microsoft, Foss Maritime, REI and Virginia Mason Medical Center have signed an open declaration, saying climate change is real and happening and that more action is needed to address it.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Business owners are assessing the damage after some anti-capitalist protesters broke windows in Seattle last night. Only a handful sustained property damage, but many more businesses were affected financially.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

It’s giving season, so there are loads of parties going on this time of year.

But a recent holiday bazaar in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood is the work of a unique entrepreneur, with a special spin on networking.

He has helped thousands of small companies to survive and even grow during the Great Recession.

PORTLAND - As the cold winter weather rolls around, you may pull your warm wool sweater from the back of the closet. But these days, some people are knitting sweaters out of a different animal: dogs. It's a new craft movement that is actually part of a very old Northwest tradition.

At the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, you can find all sorts of yarn, from mohair to angora. And even some of the sheep and rabbits and goats that grew them. But here in the artists’ gallery, weaver Jerie Lucas displays sweaters and scarves knitted from another species.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Utility regulators are on the verge of ending the automatic delivery of White Pages phone books to Washington households. Legislation to do the same in Oregon hasn't gone anywhere.

In Washington and Oregon, state law requires the local phone company to deliver a phone book to each landline customer. But telecom companies contend most consumers no longer want a printed copy of the White Pages dropped on their doorsteps.

Frontier Communications government affairs manager Carl Gipson made that case to state regulators in Olympia.

Carrying through on its warning about what could happen, the management of Hostess Brands announced this morning that the company is going out of business and laying off its 18,500 employees.

At issue: According to Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn, "we simply do not have the financial resources to survive an ongoing national strike."

Every election season, political signs sprout like dandelions from lawns across America. They also pop up at more than a few businesses. For some, expressing political preferences is a calculated move to attract customers. But it can just as easily turn clients away.

Jeff Reiter, who owns the Blue Plate Lunch Counter & Soda Fountain in Portland, Ore., proudly displays a 2008 Obama campaign sign inside his restaurant and says he has "never tried to hide" his support for the president.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state e-book consumers will receive $2 million under a nationwide settlement with three of the country's largest book publishers over allegations of price fixing.

WestSide Baby is a nonprofit organization in Seattle that collects used car seats, cribs, toys and other items for children and distributes them for free to South King County families in need.

Donations are inspected, organized and then used to fill wish lists of food and clothing banks and service care providers, such as public health nurses and social workers.

Loyalty cards have long given discounts to shoppers who sign up, but stores are increasingly offering personalized discounts tailored to each customer's shopping patterns.

Those tailored discounts mean someone standing in front of you at the supermarket checkout line might get a lower price on the exact same gallon of milk that you're buying.

A 'Secret Deal'

Heather Kulper is one of those people who really wants to get a good deal. She's a mom in a suburb north of Seattle who writes a blog about coupon clipping and saving money.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington liquor prices were 17 percent higher on average in June, compared to the same month a year ago.

The state Department of Revenue also reported sales declined in the first month private retailers could sell spirits in Washington.

You could soon pay for a latte at Starbucks simply by walking into the store with a smartphone in your pocket and giving the cashier your name.

Square, a San Francisco-based payments startup unveiled a deal Wednesday with the world's largest coffee chain that will move its mobile payments products into Starbucks stores around the U.S. starting this fall.

Bill Barber / Flickr

If you cuss at work, 57 percent of bosses say they are less likely to promote you and 64 percent will at best think less of you for it, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.com.

So, Seattleites should be getting ahead in the world since we didn’t make the top ten cities in the U.S. for swearing at work.

Some African-American hair stylists are objecting to an Oregon licensing rule that means they can't braid hair without taking a two-year course. And they’re asking state lawmakers to take up the cause.

Amber Starks wants to put her braiding skills to work as a volunteer for African-American children in foster care. The Oregon Department of Human Services embraced the idea. But the Portland woman soon found that even a volunteer needs to get a cosmetology license.

Microsoft made a $6.2 billion accounting adjustment this quarter that threw it into negative territory for the first time as a public company, the AP reports.

Microsoft took the charge mostly based on the acquisition of aQuantive, an online advertising company Microsoft acquired in 2007.

As MSNBC reports, the "charge was an acknowledgement that the company's struggling online services division — which lost about half a billion dollars in the previous quarter — is a significant financial drag on the company." Microsoft, remember, is the owner of the search engine Bing.

SALEM, Ore. – A joint effort in Oregon and Washington to make sure truckers are following safety rules turned up a higher than expected number of weary drivers. More than a quarter of drivers inspected in Oregon were found to be on the road when they shouldn't have been.

Truckers are required to take rest breaks every so often in order to ensure they're alert when they're behind the wheel. They have to keep track of those breaks in their logbook.

Facebook stock falls another 9 percent

May 29, 2012

Facebook's stock fell $3.07 to end the day at $28.84. That's first time it's fallen below $30 since the stock went public.

That price is also 24 percent below its opening price of $38.

The Wall Street Journal that the drop had to do with negative sentiment about the stock, as well as the fact that today traders were able to trade on derivatives.

The Facebook stock saw so much trading, the Journal reports, that it triggered Nasdaq's short sale circuit-breaker.

The state Transportation Department has torpedoed a proposal for floating billboards on Lake Washington in Seattle.

The company's owner said he'll pursue other Seattle waters. However, the Seattle Times reports the city of Seattle says no deal.

How much can potential employers ask about you?

May 22, 2012

Everyone knows it's tough to get a job these days. The task is that much harder if you have any kind of blemish on your past.

The use of background checks to screen potential employees has become a billion-dollar business. More than 90 percent of employers in the U.S. conduct criminal background checks, at least on some potential hires, according to a recent study by the National Consumer Law Center.

SALEM, Ore. - It's the time of year that retailers think about hiring extra help for the holidays. Labor experts in Oregon and Washington say job prospects for seasonal hires are ho-hum in the jolly ho-ho-ho season.

Washington state's Employment Department is predicting about 13,000 holiday jobs will materialize in the state through the end of the year. If true, that would fall short of last year's numbers.

Idaho is among a handful of Western states using their gun-rights cred in this tough economy to attract jobs in the firearms industry.

Richards Studio, Tacoma via Tacoma Public Library Archives

More than two-hundred workers who lost their jobs when the "Nalley Valley" canning plant in Tacoma closed last month are now eligible for special retraining through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Program.

The newly unemployed, consider it a victory.

Cheuk-man Kong / Flikr

Amazon.com has been thriving, despite the economic downturn. Shares in the company are now worth more than five times a much as they were five years ago, thanks in part to innovations such as its electronic book reader, the Kindle, or its move into data storage of all kinds of things "in the cloud."

But it's just these futuristic lines of business that have some shareholders worried. 

Investors in Bellevue-based drugstore.com gather Thursday for their annual shareholder meeting. It's likely the last time they'll meet there. 

The online-retailer is being acquired by its biggest brick and mortar competitor: Illinois-based Walgreens. 

Image courtesy of voipnovatos.es

Microsoft's biggest acquisition ever might have people in the region worrying about layoffs. Often when companies merge, redundant workers get pink slips.

But it sounds like employees of the Redmond tech giant don't have much cause for concern with Microsoft's $8.5-billion purchase of Skype.

AP photo

Insiders from many of Seattle's most recognizable big businesses are gathering today at the Washington State Convention Center downtown.

Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, REI, and The Mariners have all been invited to give interactive presentations meant to inspire others in the region to follow in their footsteps. The topic? Going Green.

Flickr, @photo

A surprisingly solid March – that's the consensus about last month's retail sales.  Despite cold weather and climbing gas prices, shoppers spent a lot more money last month than they did in March a year ago.

Costco and Nordstrom are among the local companies that are benefiting.

Flickr photo courtesy dontthink.feel

Tully's Coffee has lost yet another CEO. Seattle's second biggest coffee enterprise has announced that Carl Pennington will retire at the end of this month. 

According to the Seattle Times, he is the seventh CEO to cycle through the company since founder Tom O'Keefe stepped down from the post a decade ago. 

L’Ecole

One of Washington's oldest and most recognizable wine brands, L’Ecole, is growing up a bit with a new, sleeker label.

L'Ecole is French for "the school" and that's because the winery operates out of a nearly 100-year-old school house. The old label was a child's colorful drawing of the facility. The new label sports a sepia-toned oil painting of the historical school house soon after it was constructed in 1912.

Tom Paulson / KPLU Humanosphere

If you walked into the dimly lit, wood-paneled room and listened to the fast-paced talk by Cynthia Koenig, you might be forgiven for thinking she just sounded like another one of those young, profit-oriented entrepreneurs looking for money from venture capitalists or other kinds of investors.

Koenig is, actually, one of those money-seeking young business types, except that the primary goal of her proposal is to make life a lot easier and safer for millions of poor women around the world.

Hence the Wello, a kind of goofy looking water-carrying wheel-barrel (no, that’s not a typo) that she and her colleague, Colm Fay, at the University of Michigan’s business school want to sell to poor people.

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