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Online garden marketplace withers away

Not even a year old, calls it quits and becomes the latest public industry marketplace to be nipped in the bud. is calling it quits, becoming the latest public industry marketplace to be nipped in the bud.

Egarden, a subsidiary of consumer-products manufacturer U.S. Home and Garden, has ceased operations as an online marketplace for the lawn and garden industry, the company said Thursday. The marketplace, which was closing in on its one-year anniversary, served the overall gardening industry and allowed buyers to purchase goods from lawn and garden manufacturers, independent retailers, specialty stores, contractors and landscapers over the Web.

San Francisco-based U.S. Home and Garden said the move to bury the marketplace was a necessary one, given the harsh market conditions faced by many e-commerce businesses and the unlikely road to profitability. It is weighing other options for Egarden, including a possible sale, merger or strategic alliance, as it ends the lawn and garden services of the Web site.

Many public industry marketplaces, once a rosy trend, have struggled along with other dot-com businesses amid an economic drought. Last month, PetroCosm, a joint marketplace created by software maker Ariba and oil giants Chevron and Texaco, quietly shut its doors. Dell Computer also recently shuttered its heavily touted Dell Marketplace after only four months of operation when it failed to attract suppliers.

A small number of employees remain at Egarden to maintain the Web site while its parent company evaluates strategic alternatives.