Decades-old family business set to close in Appleton

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - The week has come for a long-time Appleton business owner to thank his customers and close his doors.

Growing up in the family business makes it difficult to say goodbye.

As he takes final inventory today of the remaining trees and shrubs at Fox Valley Nursery, Joe Sturm reflects on his life spent here along Oneida Street.

"I grew up on this property since 1957," says Sturm.

Two years before he was born, Sturm's parents, Oscar and Beatrice Sturm, founded the nursery and landscaping business.

In 1986, they were ready to pass the torch.

"I'm the 8th out of 10 and when my dad was ready to retire he asked everybody ahead of me first and they all were smart enough to say no, they knew how much work it was," says Sturm with a chuckle.

So Sturm took over, and along with his wife, older sister and her husband, carried the business forward for another 33 years, until now.

"We're all at that age and it's just time to retire," says Sturm.

This Friday will be the nursery's last day of business.

Sturm calls it bittersweet and says it's people he will miss the most.

"It's great working with people, everybody's got a different story to tell and no job is alike, every house or business that we landscape is different by design," says Sturm.

The property is now for sale, and in the coming months all Sturm's equipment and supplies will go to auction.

As for next spring, when business has always ramped up, Sturm has an idea of what he'll be doing.

"Instead of working from daylight to dark, I'll maybe be out bike riding or something," says Sturm with a laugh.

Along with beautifying the Fox Valley for decades, the nursery also founded the "Marigold Mile" along South Oneida Street.

Sturm says he's been assured that tradition will continue.