Ruth got his start in the furniture business 70 years ago driving a delivery truck and receiving his neighborhood buddies to help him haul mattresses. Health issues are currently forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture store.
"I is not going house to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting in the center of his Florida Boulevard showroom. "I'm gonna keep on functioning. I got to deliver this furniture all "
This is the second time that Ruth has had a sale. When he turned 65, Ruth brought to help the stock is sold off by him.
"I went home, and after about 10 days, I went stir crazy," he explained. "So I came back."
Ironically, the firm that helped him with the retirement sale back is assisting him with this going-out-of-business sale.
87, ruth , nevertheless does business like he did. His store does not have a website. "I don't text and I don't email," he said. "Just been a few years ago we have a computer for accounting."
Gerard's includes a focus on luxury furniture.
"All that stuff on the internet, it is like going into the ships. It's gambling. You do not know exactly what you going to have," he said. "Some of this leather is seconds, some of it is rejects."
Ruth started working at the furniture business during his senior year at Baton Rouge High in Lloyd Furniture Co., then at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU joined the Coast Guard.
In 1953, he returned with the furniture shop to Baton Rouge and to his occupation.
"I had been making $35 per week in Lloyd Furniture, then I got a offer from Hemenway's Furniture on Plank Road," he explained.
Throughout that time he had been a salesman at Hemenway's, Ruth got into hydroplane racing. He was a driver for the Tom Cat Baby, a boat with a Corvette engine that won the most dangerous and prestigious Pan American race Lake Pontchartrain in 1958.
Throughout the ship races, Ruth became buddies with Lewis Gottlieb, president of City National Bank. Gottlieb endorsed some teams that were racing.
Ruth got a call from Gottlieb, one day. The owner of Simon Furniture Co. had died and his children weren't interested in taking over the business. Would Ruth be interested in owning a furniture shop?
Gottlieb advised him to check the shop out, and he would help him finance the deal, when he was interested.
"It was a great store, and that I knew I could do some good on the market," Ruth said. The problem was money. But he did have a life insurance coverage he purchased from a fellow member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb advised me to deliver him that insurance policy to the bank," Ruth said. "He told me'You're going to make it."
The Furniture of gerard started in 1966. There were three employees: a bookkeeper and the Ruths. At the store, Ruth sold furniture during the day. In look at this now the evenings, he delivered the items he sold.
At that moment, the trend in furniture was Victorian - and Spanish-style furniture. A successful Atlanta furniture salesman visited Gerard's Furniture and told Ruth, he needed to find a few of those things in the store to make it effective. Ruth told the man he didn't have the money to buy the helpful hints furnitureso he got them to send three suites of Mediterranean-style furniture on credit to Gerard's and phoned a Virginia maker. "That cranked business up," Ruth said. "We offered out the hell of that furniture."
Ruth heard about a shop on Florida Boulevard that was up available for $500,000. Ruth checked the building at 7330 Florida Blvd. and decided to purchase it and fix it up.
"It cost $2 million to revive the entire building," he explained. The loan was so big, it had to be split between CNB and St. Landry Bank in Opelousas.
The Florida Boulevard location of the Furniture of Gerard opened around 1975. The store won acclaim for the completeness of the choice, which included artwork furniture, fabrics, rugs and decorative accessories. 1 area is filled in the 1970s with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry includes a bunch of original Louisiana art and prints in another part of the store.
To round out the selection in Gerard's, the furniture markets are visited by Ruth in North Carolina.
"Baton Rouge has always been interested in good taste and traditional furniture," he said. "The men and women who purchase fine furniture want to sit in it, want to feel it, and when they have any understanding at all, unzip it and see what is inside it."
Recently, he had been diagnosed with lung disorder. That led him to shut the store after meeting with four kids and his wife.
The choice was made to liquidate the business, Since his children have professional jobs.
"I never got rich, but I was able to raise four kids, send them all off to college -- and not need to pay any institutions or attorneys to get them out of difficulty," he explained.
Despite his years in business, Ruth stated he chose overnight to shut the shop.
"My family would go crazy trying to work out everything at the furniture shop," he explained.
He made a point of helping eight grandchildren and his kids find things in the store to help decorate their houses.
Plans are to spend promoting off all the inventory in Gerard's. When all is gone, the shop will close.
Ruth said he's seen a boost in customers since announcing he was shutting down his organization. The day after it was announced he was shutting, 500 people showed up at the store. The next day about 400 people were there.
"We had them come from 20, 30, 40, even 50 years back to buy things on our economy," he explained. "It's been rewarding."