Roger Brooks, owner of California shoe chain Brooks Shoes for Kids, used to get a good bump in business during the back-to-school period, but now he's looking at closing his doors if things don't improve. "I'm using every resource I've learned in the last 40 years to keep this business going," he says. Small retailers say they are bracing for a slow back-to-school season as lower consumer spending and competition from big-box stores continue to pressure sales.

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