Ruth got his start driving a delivery truck and receiving his neighborhood friends to help him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour. Health issues are currently forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture shop.
"I ain’t going home to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting at the middle of his Florida Boulevard showroom. "I am going to continue functioning. I got to deliver this furniture all "
When he turned 65, Ruth brought in an outside company to help him sell off the inventory.
"I went home, and after about 10 days, I went stir crazy," he explained. "So I came back."
Ironically, the company that assisted him in 1996 back with the retirement sale is helping him with this going-out-of-business sale.
87, ruth does business like he did. His shop doesn't have a site. "I don't text and that I don't email," he explained. "Just been a few years ago we got a computer for accounting."
Gerard's includes a focus on high-end, American-made 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 exactly what you going to have," he said. "Some of this leather is seconds, some of it is rejects."
Ruth began working in 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.
In 1953, he returned to his occupation and also to Baton Rouge with the furniture store.
Throughout that time he had been a salesman in Hemenway's, Ruth got into racing. He was a driver for your Tom Cat Baby, a boat with a Corvette engine which won the most prestigious and dangerous Pan American race Lake Pontchartrain.
Throughout the ship races, Ruth became buddies with Lewis Gottlieb, president of City National Bank. Gottlieb backed some teams that were racing.
Ruth got a call from Gottlieb, 1 day. The proprietor of Simon Furniture Co. had expired and his children were not interested in taking over the enterprise. Can Ruth be interested in owning a furniture shop?
Gottlieb told him to check the store out, and he'd help him finance the deal, when he was interested.
"It was a great shop, and I knew I could do some good on the market," Ruth explained. The issue was money. However he did have a $10,000 life insurance policy he purchased from a member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb advised me to bring him that insurance policy into the bank," Ruth explained. "He told me'You're going to make it."
Gerard's Furniture opened in 1530 Foster Drive in 1966. There were three workers: a bookkeeper and the Ruths. Ruth sold furniture at the shop. In the evenings, he delivered.
At that moment, the trend in furniture was Mediterranean- and Spanish-style furniture. A Atlanta furniture salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and told Ruth, he had to get a few of those things in the shop to make it successful. Ruth told the guy he did not have the money so he got them to ship three suites of Mediterranean-style furniture to Gerard's on credit and called a Virginia manufacturer. "That really cranked up business," Ruth explained. "We sold out the hell of the furniture"
Ruth discovered about a store. Ruth checked out the construction at 7330 Florida Blvd. and chose to purchase it and fix it up.
The loan was really large, it had to be divided between CNB and St. Landry Bank in Opelousas.
The Florida Boulevard place Learn More of the Furniture of Gerard opened around 1975. The store won national acclaim for the completeness of the choice, which included furniture, artwork, 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 another part of the shop.
To round out the selection Ruth visits with the significant furniture markets in North Carolina every six months to locate items.
"Baton Rouge has ever been interested in good taste and standard furniture," he explained. "The people who purchase nice furniture want to take a seat in it, would like to feel this, and if they have any understanding at all, unzip it and see what is inside it."
Over the years, Ruth has had health issues, including cancer and diabetes. He was diagnosed with lung disease. That led him to close the shop after meeting with his wife and four kids.
"I got outvoted," he said. The decision was made to liquidate the business, because his children all have professional occupations.
"I never got rich, but I was able to raise four kids, send them all off to college -- and not have to pay any associations or attorneys to get them out of trouble," he explained.
Despite his years in business, Ruth stated he chose to shut the store.
"My family would go crazy trying to work out everything in the furniture shop," he said.
He made a point of helping eight grandchildren and his kids find things in the click this site shop to help decorate their own homes.
Plans are to spend the next few months promoting off of the inventory in Gerard's. When everything is gone, the shop will close.
Since announcing he was shutting down his business, Ruth said he's seen a boost in clients. The day after it was announced he was shutting, 500 people showed up in the shop.
"It's been rewarding."