Another piece of local 20th-century business history is fading away, as Platt's Nursery Garden Shop is closing.

Richard Platt, who manages the store, which his parents, Dean and Lee, first opened in 1944 on the same site, at 3700 University Ave., said the business had not been profitable in recent years.

"I can't do it anymore," Richard Platt said.

The store, which has a full-line garden shop, offers landscaping services and sells implements and power tools, has 15 full- and part-time employees, including Richard Platt, 60, who came to work in the family business in 1979 after leaving the U.S. Air Force.

The plan is to close the store Nov. 1, Richard Platt said.

Dean Platt died last October, just short of age 90; Lee Platt, who, according to her son is "close to 90," retains ownership of the business through a corporation, Platt's Inc.

"We're one of three nurseries in Waterloo and Cedar Falls that actually have a full garden center, where we actually grow our trees or merchandise in the fields, where we have a garden center that has the tools, garden supplies, chemicals, fertilizers," Platt said.

Customers who, in previous times, would have bought shrubs and landscaping materials from Platt's, now will go to a so-called "big-box" store for those items, Platt said.

"There's a lot of people that put things in, but they don't have a full line or would come when you have a disease in your grass or trees," he said. "They don't treat the symptoms; we do. That's where the box stores have hurt us, because people can go in and buy chemicals but they still call us and say, 'What's wrong?'"

Business probably peaked for the store in the mid-1980s, Platt said.

"At that time, we did very well in outdoor power equipment, and we did very well in the nursery end of it," he said.

As business winds down, Platt said, the nursery will run sales in order to whittle down the inventory.

He said the ideal goal would be to sell the building to another nursery-type business.