ABILENE, Kan. (AP) ¿ Duckwall-ALCO Stores Inc., which runs retail stores that serve smaller communities, on Thursday posted a slightly smaller loss in the third quarter even as sales fell. The company, based in Abilene, Kan., lost $1.4 million, or 38 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Nov. 1. That compares with a loss of $1.7 million, or 44 cents per share, a year earlier. CEO Larry Zigerelli said the company had cut operating expenses to improve its results even as sales fell. Revenue fell 3 percent in the quarter to $111.5 million from $114.9 million. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.7 percent during the quarter. These are a key measure of retailer performance because it is not skewed by new store openings and closings. Duckwall-ALCO shares rose 5 cents to $16.05 in late afternoon trading.