Ruth got his start in the furniture business receiving his neighborhood friends to assist him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour and driving a delivery truck. Now, health issues 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 middle of the Florida Boulevard showroom. "I'm gonna continue functioning. I got to deliver all this furniture."
Twenty-two years back, when he turned 65, Ruth brought in an outside company to help him sell off the stock.
"I went home, and after about 10 days, I went stir crazy," he explained. "So I came back."
Ironically, the identical company that assisted him in 1996 back with all the retirement sale is assisting him with this going-out-of-business sale.
Like he did 87, ruth does business. His shop does not have a website. "I really don't text and that I don't email," he said. "Only been a few years ago we have a computer for bookkeeping."
Gerard's has a focus on American-made furniture.
"All that stuff on the internet, it's like going into the ships. It's gambling. You don't know exactly what you are going to have," he said. "A number of the 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 joined the Coast Guard during the Korean War.
He returned with the furniture shop to his job and also to Baton Rouge.
"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 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 on Lake Pontchartrain in 1958.
With Lewis Gottlieb, president of City National Bank, Ruth became buddies through the ship races. Some teams that were rushing were backed by gottlieb.
Ruth got a call from Gottlieb one day. The proprietor of Simon Furniture Co. had died and his children weren't interested in taking over the business. Can Ruth be interested in having a furniture shop?
Gottlieb advised him to have a look at the shop, and when he was interested, he would help him finance the deal.
"It was a great shop, and I knew I could do some good on the market," Ruth explained. The problem was money. However he did have a $10,000 life insurance coverage he purchased from a member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb told me to bring him that insurance policy into the lender," Ruth explained. "He told me'You are going to create it."
Gerard's Furniture started at 1530 Foster Drive in 1966. There were three employees: the Ruths and a bookkeeper. During the day, Ruth sold furniture. In the evenings, he delivered the items he sold.
At that moment, the trend in furniture was Mediterranean- and Spanish-style furniture. An effective Atlanta furniture salesman visited Gerard's Furniture and advised Ruth, he had to get a few of those items in the shop to make it effective. Ruth told the guy he did not have the money to purchase the furnitureso he phoned a Virginia manufacturer and got them to send three suites of Mediterranean-style furniture to Gerard's on credit. "That cranked business up," Ruth explained. "We offered out the hell of the furniture"
A couple of years after, Ruth heard about a store on Florida Boulevard which was up read review for sale for $500,000. Ruth checked out the building at 7330 Florida Blvd. and decided to purchase it and fix it up.
The Florida Boulevard place of the Furniture of Gerard opened around 1975. The shop won national acclaim for the completeness of the choice, which included fabrics, art, furniture, rugs and decorative accessories. One room is filled try these out with George Rodrigue prints from the early 1970s. His son Larry prints at another area of the shop and includes a gallery of original Louisiana art.
To round out the selection Ruth visits the furniture markets in North Carolina each six months to locate items.
"Baton Rouge has always been interested in good taste and traditional furniture," he explained. "The people who buy fine furniture want to take a seat in it, would like to feel it, and when they have any knowledge in any way, unzip it and see what's inside ."
Through the years, Ruth has had health issues, including diabetes and cancer. He had been diagnosed with lung disease. That led the shop to close after meeting with his wife and four kids.
"I got outvoted," he said. The decision was made to liquidate the business, Since his kids have professional jobs.
"I never got rich, but I was able to raise four kids, send them all off to school -- and not need to pay any institutions or attorneys to get them from difficulty," he said.
Regardless of his years in business, Ruth stated he decided overnight to shut the shop.
"My family would go mad trying to work out everything at the furniture shop," he explained.
He also made a point of helping eight grandchildren and his children find items in the shop to help decorate their houses.
Plans are to spend promoting off all the stock . The shop will close when all is gone.
Ruth said he's seen a increase in customers, since declaring he was shutting down his organization. 500 people showed up at the shop the day after it was announced he was closing. The next day about 400 people were there.
"It has been rewarding."