Garden.com throwing in the trowel

The e-tailer intends to phase out its consumer business and begin liquidating its assets, as it has been unable to find a buyer.

Garden.com is closing its consumer business and will begin liquidating its assets, the company said Wednesday.

Austin, Texas-based Garden.com will begin laying off workers at its e-commerce operations. The company is considering "strategic alternatives" for its recently formed business division, Trellis, designed to showcase the company's software.

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Garden.com throwing in the trowel
Jill Frankle, director of retail e-commerce, Gomez
In afternoon trading, Garden.com stock fell 9 cents, or about 37 percent, to 16 cents on the Nasdaq. Shares of the company have traded below $1 since late September. The stock closed at 25 cents Tuesday and has traded as high as $15 in the past 52 weeks.

The closure comes after Garden.com, which sells gardening products online, has searched for new investors, a possible merger partner or a buyer. Last spring, the company hired investment bank Robertson Stephens to help with the search.

"That search included contacts with several interesting prospects," the company said. "None were prepared to fund or acquire the company."

Garden.com is the second big publicly traded company in the last two weeks to say it will close shop. Pets.com, another prominent online retailer, also announced it would cease operations.

Other e-commerce casualties of the ongoing dot-com shakeout during the past two weeks have included furnishings store Furniture.com, health site MotherNature.com and online grocer Streamline.com.

Signs of trouble for Garden.com sprouted some time ago. The company reported a large shortfall in earnings for the first quarter.

In September, Garden.com slashed its work force by about 40 percent. The 5-year-old company aimed to be the premier online store for gardening products.

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