After 70 years in the furniture business, Gerard Ruth is shutting down his company.
Ruth got his start getting his neighborhood friends to help him haul mattresses and 70 years back driving a delivery truck. Now, health problems are currently forcing him to close down his Gerard's Furniture store.
"I ain’t going home to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting in the middle of the Florida Boulevard showroom. "I am going to continue functioning. I must deliver this furniture all ."
Twenty-two years back, when he turned 65, Ruth brought in an outside business to help him sell the inventory off.
"So I came back."
Paradoxically, the same company that assisted him in 1996 back with all the retirement sale is assisting him with this going-out-of-business sale.
87, ruth does business like he did. His store does not have a site. "I really don't text and I do not email," he explained. "Only been a couple of years ago we got a computer for accounting."
Gerard's includes a focus on high-end, American-made furniture.
"All that stuff on the internet, it's like going to the boats. It's gambling. You don't know exactly what you going to get," he explained. "A number of this leather is seconds, some of it is rejects."
Ruth began working at the furniture industry during his senior year at 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 to Baton Rouge and also to his job with the furniture store.
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.
With Lewis Gottlieb, Ruth became buddies Throughout the boat races. Gottlieb backed some teams that were rushing.
Ruth got a call 1 day. The proprietor of Simon Furniture Co. had expired and his kids weren't interested in taking over the enterprise. Would Ruth be interested in having a furniture shop?
Gottlieb advised him to check out the shop, and if he was interested, he would help him finance the offer.
"It was a great store, and I knew I could do some good on the market," Ruth said. The problem was money. However he did have a $10,000 life insurance coverage he bought from a member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb told me to bring him that insurance coverage into the bank," Ruth said. "He told me'You're going to make it."
Gerard's Furniture opened in 1966. There were three employees: the Ruths and a bookkeeper. Throughout the afternoon, Ruth sold furniture in the store. In the evenings, he delivered.
At that moment, the most popular trend in furniture was Victorian - and Spanish-style furniture. A Atlanta furniture salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and advised Ruth he needed to get a few of those items in the store to make it effective. Ruth told the guy he did not have the money so that he called a Virginia manufacturer and got them to ship three suites of Mediterranean-style furniture to Gerard's on credit. "That cranked business up," Ruth said. "We sold Look At This out the hell of that More about the author furniture."
Ruth discovered about a shop on Florida Boulevard that was up available for $500,000. Ruth checked out the building at 7330 Florida Blvd. and decided to purchase it and fix it up.
"It cost $2 million to revive the entire construction," he said.
The Florida Boulevard place of the Furniture of Gerard opened around 1975. The shop won acclaim for its completeness of this selection, which included fabrics, art, furniture, rugs and accessories. One area is filled with George Rodrigue prints from the early 1970s. His son Larry prints in another part of the shop and has a gallery of original Louisiana art.
To round out the selection in Gerard's, Ruth and the furniture markets visit in North Carolina every six months to find items.
"Baton Rouge has always been interested in great taste and traditional furniture," he said. "The people who buy nice furniture want to take a seat in it, would like to feel it, and when they have any understanding at all, unzip it and see what is inside ."
He was diagnosed with lung disorder. That led the store to close after meeting with his wife and four kids.
Because his children have professional occupations, the choice was made to liquidate the business.
"I never got rich, but I was able to raise four children, send them off to school -- and not have to pay any institutions or attorneys to get them from difficulty," he explained.
Regardless of his years in business, Ruth stated he chose to close the store.
"My family would go mad trying to work out everything at the furniture store," he said.
He also made a point of helping eight grandchildren and his children find things in the store to help decorate their own homes.
Plans are to spend the next few months selling of the stock off in Gerard's. When everything is gone, the store will close.
Ruth said he has seen a boost in customers since declaring his organization shut down. The day after it was announced he was shutting, 500 people showed up in the shop. The next day about 400 people were there.
"It has been rewarding."