After 70 years in furniture business, his business is shutting down.
Ruth got his start driving a delivery truck and getting his neighborhood friends to assist him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour. Now, health problems are currently forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture shop.
"I is not going house to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting in the center of his Florida Boulevard showroom. "I am going to continue working. I must deliver this furniture all ."
This is the second time that Ruth has had a sale. Twenty-two years ago, when he turned 65, Ruth brought to help the inventory is sold off by him.
"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.
Like he did, 87, ruth does business. His store does not have a website. "I don't text and I don't email," he said. "Only been a few years ago we have a computer for accounting."
Gerard's includes a focus on American-made furniture.
"All that stuff on the world wide web, it's like going into the boats. It's gambling. You don't understand exactly what you are going to get," he explained. "Some of this leather is seconds, some of it's rejects."
Ruth started working at the furniture industry during his senior year at Baton Rouge High in Lloyd Furniture Co., then at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU, then joined the Coast Guard during the Korean War.
He returned to his job and also to Baton Rouge with the furniture shop.
Throughout that time he had been a salesman in Hemenway's, Ruth got into racing. He was a catalyst for your Tom Cat Baby, a boat with a Corvette engine which won the most dangerous and prestigious Pan American race Lake Pontchartrain in 1958.
With Lewis Gottlieb, president of City National Bank, Ruth became friends Throughout the ship races. Gottlieb endorsed some teams that were rushing.
Ruth got a call from Gottlieb 1 afternoon. The owner of Simon Furniture Co. had died and his kids weren't interested in taking over the business. Can Ruth be interested in owning a furniture store?
Gottlieb told him to check the shop out, and he'd help him fund the offer, when he was interested.
"It was a nice shop, and I knew I could do some good over there," Ruth explained. The issue was money. His wife and ruth, Selma, had just had their second child, and he needed a couple hundred bucks after paying the hospital bill. But he did have a life insurance policy he bought from a member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb told me to deliver him that insurance coverage into the bank," Ruth said. "He told me'You're going to create it."
The Furniture of gerard started at 1530 Foster Drive in 1966. There were three employees: the Ruths and a bookkeeper. Ruth sold furniture at the shop. In the evenings, he also delivered the things he sold.
At that time, the hottest trend in furniture was Mediterranean- and Spanish-style furniture. A successful Atlanta furniture salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and told Ruth, he needed to get some of those items in the store to make it effective. Ruth told the guy he didn't have the money so he called a Virginia manufacturer and got them to send three suites of furniture on credit to Gerard's. "That really cranked business over here up," Ruth said. "We offered the hell out of the furniture."
Ruth heard about a store on Florida Boulevard that was up for sale for $500,000. Ruth checked the construction at 7330 Florida Blvd. and decided to buy it and fix it up.
The Florida Boulevard location of the Furniture of Gerard opened around 1975. The store won national acclaim for its completeness of the choice, which included fabrics, art, furniture, rugs and accessories. One area is filled in the early 1970s with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry prints at another part of the shop and has a gallery of original Louisiana art.
To round out the selection Ruth visits with the furniture markets in North Carolina.
"Baton Rouge has ever been interested in great taste and standard furniture," he said. "The people who purchase nice furniture want to sit in it, would like to feel this, and if they have any understanding in any way, unzip it and see what is inside it."
He had been diagnosed with chronic lung disease. That led him to shut the shop after meeting with four children and his wife.
"I got outvoted," he said. The decision was made to liquidate the organization Since his children have professional jobs.
"I never got rich, but I was able to raise four children, send them all off to college -- and not have to pay any institutions or lawyers to get them from trouble," he said.
Regardless of his years in business, Ruth said he decided to shut the store.
"My family would go mad trying to figure out everything at the furniture store," he said.
He made a point of helping eight grandchildren and his kids find items in the store to help decorate their houses.
Plans are to spend selling off all of the stock . The this page store will close, when everything is gone.
Ruth said he's seen a boost in customers, since declaring he shut down his organization. The day after it was announced he was shutting, 500 people showed up at the shop.
"We had them come in from 20, 30, 40, even 50 years back to purchase things on our economy," he explained. "It has been rewarding."