Smith & Hawken, an upscale garden-supply chain, is closing and has begun a liquidation sale, company officials said today.

The owner of the 56-store chain, Ohio-based lawn and garden giant Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., had sought for a year to find a buyer, said Jim Hagedorn, the company chairman and chief executive officer. "While this is a sad outcome," he said, "the combination of a weak economy and the lack of scale proved too great to overcome."

Liquidation will be administered by Boston-headquartered Gordon Brothers Group, the company that liquidated Joe's, the West Coast sporting goods chain

Liquidation began Thursday and will likely be complete by the end of November, said Su Lok, a spokeswoman for Scotts Miracle-Gro. The company's Website and call center stopped taking orders Thursday.

Smith & Hawken stores are in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Dave Smith and Paul Hawken started the chain in 1979 with a store in Mill Valley, Calif. The closures will leave 700 employees nationwide, including those at Smith & Hawken's Novato, Calif., headquarters, without a job. Scotts Miracle-Gro will pay about $25 million in lease terminations and severance payments.

ScottsMiracle-Gro officials said the company would take an after-tax charge of $25 million, primarily related to the termination of lease obligations and severance costs. Company shares, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, closed Thursday at $35.25, up 3 percent.

Article courtesy of Oregon Live.