After 70 years in the furniture business, Gerard Ruth is shutting down his business.
Ruth got his start at the furniture business getting his neighborhood buddies to help him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour and driving a delivery truck. Now, health issues are forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture store.
"I'm gonna keep on working. I got to deliver all this furniture"
This is actually the second time that Ruth has had a sale. Twenty-two decades ago, when he turned 65, Ruth brought to help him sell off the inventory.
"So I came back."
Paradoxically, the firm that helped him in 1996 back with all the retirement sale is helping him with this sale.
87, ruth , nevertheless does business like he always did. His shop does not have a website. "I really don't text and that 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 created out of premium leather.
"All that stuff on the internet, it's like going to the boats. It's gambling. You do not know what you are going to have," he said. "Some of this leather is seconds, some of it's rejects."
Ruth began working in the furniture industry during his senior year in Baton Rouge High at Lloyd Furniture Co., at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU, then joined the Coast Guard during the Korean War.
Back in 1953, he returned with the furniture store to Baton Rouge and also to his occupation.
During that time he was a salesman in Hemenway's, Ruth got into racing. He was a driver for your Tom Cat Baby, a ship with a Corvette engine that won the most dangerous and prestigious Pan American race on Lake Pontchartrain.
With Lewis Gottlieb, Ruth became buddies through the boat races. Some teams that were racing were endorsed by gottlieb.
Ruth got a call one afternoon. The owner of Simon Furniture Co. had died and his kids were not interested in taking over the business. Would Ruth be interested in owning a furniture store?
Gottlieb advised him to check out the shop, and he'd help him fund the offer, if he was interested.
"It was a nice store, and that I knew I could do some good on the market," Ruth explained. The issue was money. Selma, ruth and his wife, had just had their second child, and that he had a couple hundred dollars after paying the hospital bill. But he'd have a $10,000 life insurance policy he bought from a fellow member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb advised me to deliver him that insurance policy to the bank," Ruth explained. "He told me'You are going to make it."
Gerard's Furniture started in 1530 Foster Drive in 1966. There were three employees: a bookkeeper and the Ruths. At the store, Ruth sold furniture Throughout the afternoon. In the evenings, he also delivered.
At that time, the hottest trend in furniture has been Mediterranean- and Spanish-style furniture. A Atlanta furniture salesman visited Gerard's Furniture and told Ruth he needed to find some of those things in the store to make it successful. Ruth told the guy he didn't have the money so he called a Virginia maker and got them to send three suites of Mediterranean-style furniture on credit to Gerard's. "That cranked up business," Ruth said. "We offered out the hell of the furniture."
Ruth heard about a store on Florida Boulevard which was up for sale for $500,000. Ruth checked the building at 7330 Florida Blvd. and chose to buy it and fix it up.
The loan was so big, it was divided between CNB and St. Landry Bank in Opelousas.
The Florida Boulevard location of Gerard's Furniture opened around 1975. The store won acclaim for the completeness of this choice, which included furniture, art, fabrics, rugs and decorative accessories. One view website area is filled in the early 1970s with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry includes a bunch of original Louisiana art and prints at another part of the shop.
To round out the selection at Gerard's, Ruth visits the significant furniture markets in North Carolina each six months to locate items.
"Baton Rouge has always been interested in good taste and standard furniture," he explained. "The men and women who purchase fine furniture want to take a seat in it, would like to feel it, and when they have any knowledge at all, unzip it and see what is inside ."
Through the years, Ruth has had health issues, including cancer and diabetes. He was diagnosed with chronic lung disease. That led the shop to close after meeting with four children and his wife.
The choice was made to liquidate the business because his kids all have professional jobs.
"I never got rich, but I managed to raise four kids, send them off to school -- and not have to pay any associations or lawyers to get them out of difficulty," he next explained.
Despite his years in business, Ruth said he decided overnight to shut the store.
"My family would go crazy trying to work out everything in the furniture store," he explained.
He made a point of helping his children and eight grandchildren find things in the shop to help decorate their own homes.
Plans are to spend promoting off all the stock in Gerard's. When all is gone, the store will close.
Ruth said he has seen a increase in customers, since declaring he was shutting down his business. 500 people showed up at the store, the day after it was announced he was shutting. The following day about 400 people were there.
"It has been rewarding."