Ruth got his start in the furniture industry driving a delivery truck and receiving his neighborhood buddies to assist him haul mattresses. Now, health issues are currently forcing him to close down his Gerard's Furniture shop.
"I ain’t going home to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting in the middle of the Florida Boulevard showroom. "I'm gonna keep on functioning. I must deliver all this furniture."
This is the second time that Ruth has had a sale. When he turned 65, Ruth brought to help the inventory is sold off by him.
"So I came back."
Paradoxically, the firm that helped him in 1996 back with all the retirement sale is currently helping him with this going-out-of-business sale.
Ruth, 87, still does business like he did. His shop does not have a website. "I don't text and I don't email," he said. "Just been a couple of 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 is like going into the ships. It's gambling. You don't know exactly what you are going to get," he explained. "Some of the leather is seconds, some of it's rejects."
Ruth began working at the furniture business during his senior year in Baton Rouge High at Lloyd Furniture Co., then at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU, then joined the Coast Guard.
In 1953, he returned to Baton Rouge and to his job with the furniture store.
"I had been making $35 per week at Lloyd Furniture, then I got an offer from Hemenway's Furniture on Plank Road," he explained.
During that time he was a salesman at Hemenway's, Ruth got into hydroplane racing. He was a catalyst for the Tom Cat Baby, a ship with a Corvette engine that won the prestigious and dangerous Pan American race Lake Pontchartrain.
With Lewis Gottlieb, Ruth became friends Throughout the boat races. Some rushing teams were backed by gottlieb.
Ruth got a call, one afternoon. The owner 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 told the store to be checked out by him, and he'd help him fund the offer, if he had been interested.
"It was a great store, and that I knew I could do some good over there," Ruth said. The problem was money. His wife along with ruth, Selma, had just had their second child, and more tips here that he had a few hundred dollars after paying the hospital bill. But he'd have a $10,000 life insurance coverage he bought from a member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb told me to deliver him that insurance coverage to the bank," Ruth explained. "He told me'You are going to create it."
Gerard's Furniture opened in 1966. There were three employees: the Ruths and a bookkeeper. Ruth sold furniture at the store. In the evenings, he also delivered the items he offered.
At that moment, the most popular trend in furniture was Mediterranean- and Spanish-style furniture. An effective Atlanta furniture salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and advised Ruth, he had to get a few of those items in the store. Ruth told the guy he did not have the money so he got them to ship three suites of Mediterranean-style furniture to Gerard and phoned a Virginia maker. "That cranked up business," Ruth explained. "We sold the hell out of that furniture."
Ruth discovered about a store. Ruth checked the construction at 7330 Florida Blvd. and chose to buy it and fix it up.
"It cost $2 million to restore the whole construction," he said.
The Florida Boulevard place of the Furniture of Gerard opened around 1975. The store won national acclaim for its completeness of this choice, which included artwork, furniture, fabrics, rugs and decorative accessories. 1 room is filled with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry includes a bunch of original Louisiana art and prints in a different part of the shop.
To round out the selection in Gerard's, Ruth and the furniture markets visit in North Carolina.
"Baton Rouge has always been interested in good taste and standard furniture," he explained. "The men and women who buy fine furniture want to take a seat in it, want to feel it, and when they have any understanding in any way, unzip it and see what's inside it."
Through the years, Ruth has had health problems, such as cancer and diabetes. He was diagnosed with chronic lung disorder. That led him to shut the store after meeting with four kids and his i loved this wife.
"I got outvoted," he explained. The choice was made to liquidate the organization, Since his children have professional jobs.
"I never got rich, but I was able to raise four kids, send them off to college -- and not have to pay any associations or attorneys to get them from trouble," he explained.
Despite his years in business, Ruth stated he decided overnight to shut the store.
"My family would go mad trying to figure out everything in the furniture store," he said.
He also made a point of helping his kids and eight grandchildren find things in the store to help decorate their houses.
Plans are to spend the next few months promoting off of the inventory in Gerard's. When everything is gone, the store will close.
Ruth said he's seen a increase in customers since declaring he shut down his business. The day after it was announced he closed, 500 people showed up at the shop. The following day about 400 people were there.
"We had them come in from 20, 30, 40, even 50 years back to buy things on our economy," he said. "It's been rewarding."