Ruth got his start driving a delivery truck and getting his neighborhood buddies to assist him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour. Now, health issues are forcing him to close down his Gerard's Furniture store.
"I ain’t going house to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting in the middle of the Florida Boulevard showroom. "I'm gonna continue working. I must deliver this furniture all "
This is actually the second time that Ruth has had a going-out-of-business sale. When he turned 65, Ruth brought in an outside business to help the stock is sold off by him.
"I went home, and after about 10 days, I went stir crazy," he explained. "So I came back."
Ironically, the identical firm that assisted him in 1996 back with the retirement sale is currently helping him with this going-out-of-business sale.
Ruth, 87, nevertheless does business like he always did. His shop doesn't have a website. "I don't text and I do not email," he said. "Only been a couple of years ago we have a computer for bookkeeping."
Gerard's has a focus on luxury, American-made furniture.
"All that stuff on the world wide web, it's like going into the ships. It's gambling. You don't know exactly what you going to get," he said. "A number of the leather is seconds, some of it is rejects."
Ruth started working in the furniture business during his senior year in Baton Rouge High in Lloyd Furniture Co., at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU joined the Coast Guard during the Korean War.
He returned to Baton Rouge and also to his job with the furniture shop.
"I was making $35 a week in Lloyd Furniture, then I got an offer from Hemenway's Furniture on Plank Road," he said.
Throughout 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 dangerous and prestigious Pan American race Lake Pontchartrain.
With Lewis Gottlieb, Ruth became buddies through the boat races. Gottlieb backed some teams that were rushing.
Ruth got a call. The proprietor of Simon Furniture Co. had expired and his kids weren't interested in taking over the enterprise. Can Ruth be interested in owning a furniture shop?
Gottlieb told him to check useful link out the store, and he would help him fund the offer, when he had been interested.
"It was a nice store, and I knew I could do some good over there," Ruth said. The problem was money. Selma, his wife and ruth, had just had their second child, and that he needed a few hundred bucks after paying the hospital bill. However he'd have a life insurance coverage he bought from a fellow member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb advised me to deliver him that insurance coverage into the bank," Ruth said. "He told me'You are going to create it."
Gerard's Furniture started in 1966. There were three employees: the Ruths and a bookkeeper. During the day, Ruth sold furniture. In the evenings, he delivered the things he sold.
At that moment, the hottest trend in furniture has been Victorian - and Spanish-style furniture. An effective Atlanta furniture salesman visited Gerard's Furniture and told Ruth he had to get some of those things in the store to ensure it is successful. Ruth told the man he didn't have the money to purchase the furniture, so he called a Virginia manufacturer and got them to ship three suites of Mediterranean-style furniture on credit to Gerard's. "That cranked up business," Ruth said. "We offered the hell out of the furniture."
A few decades later, Ruth discovered about a shop.
The Florida Boulevard location of Gerard's Furniture opened around 1975. The store won national acclaim for its completeness of this selection, which included furniture, artwork, fabrics, rugs and decorative accessories. 1 here room is filled in the early 1970s with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry includes a bunch of original Louisiana art and prints at a different area of the store.
Ruth visits the significant furniture markets in North Carolina to round out the selection at Gerard's.
"Baton Rouge has ever been interested in good taste and standard furniture," he explained. "The people who buy fine furniture want to take a seat in it, want to feel this, and if they have any knowledge in any way, unzip it and see what's inside it."
Over the years, Ruth has had health problems, including diabetes and cancer. Lately, he was diagnosed with chronic lung disease. That led the store to shut after meeting with his wife and four children.
"I got outvoted," he explained. The decision was made to liquidate the organization, because his children have professional occupations.
"I never got rich, but I managed to raise four kids, send them off to school -- and not need to pay any institutions or attorneys to get them out of difficulty," he explained.
Regardless of his years in business, Ruth said he decided overnight to shut the store.
"My family would go crazy trying to figure out everything at the furniture shop," he explained.
He also made a point of helping eight grandchildren and his children find things in the store to help decorate their own houses.
Plans are to spend selling the stock off . The shop will close when everything is gone.
Ruth said he's seen a boost in customers, since announcing he shut down his organization. The day after it was announced he was closing, 500 people showed up at the shop.
"We had them come from 20, 30, 40, even 50 years ago to buy things on our sale," he said. "It has been rewarding."