After 70 years in the furniture business, Gerard Ruth is shutting down his business.
Ruth got his start at the furniture industry receiving his neighborhood buddies to help him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour and driving a delivery truck. Health problems are currently forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture store.
"I ain’t going house to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting in the center of the Florida Boulevard showroom. "I'm gonna continue working. I got to deliver all this furniture"
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 company to help him sell off the inventory.
"I went home, and after about 10 days, I went crazy," he said.
Paradoxically, the firm that assisted him in 1996 back with the retirement sale is assisting him with this sale.
Like he always did ruth, 87 does business. His store does not have a site. "I don't text and that I don't email," he said. "Just been a couple of years ago we have a computer for bookkeeping."
Gerard's includes a focus on American-made furniture made out of premium leather.
"All that stuff on the internet, it is like going into the boats. It is gambling. You don't understand what you going to have," he said. "A number of the leather is seconds, some of it is 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, then joined the Coast Guard.
He returned to Baton Rouge and to his occupation with the furniture store.
He was a salesman in Hemenway's, Ruth got into racing. He was a driver for the Tom Cat Baby, a ship 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 Throughout the boat races. Some teams that were racing were backed by gottlieb.
Ruth got a call. The owner of Simon Furniture Co. had died and his children were not interested in taking over the enterprise. Would Ruth be interested in owning a furniture store?
Gottlieb told the shop to be checked out by him, and he'd help him finance the deal if he was interested.
"It was a great shop, and I knew I could do some good over there," Ruth said. The problem was money. Ruth and his wife, Selma, had just had their second child, and he had a few hundred bucks after paying the hospital bill. However he'd have a $10,000 life insurance policy he bought from a fellow member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb told me to deliver him that insurance coverage to the bank," Ruth said. "He told me'You're going to create it."
The Furniture of gerard started in 1966. There were three employees: a bookkeeper and the Ruths. Throughout the afternoon, Ruth sold furniture. In the evenings, he delivered.
At that time, the trend in furniture has been Victorian - and Spanish-style furniture. An effective Atlanta furniture salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and told Ruth, he needed to get a few of those things in the shop to ensure it is effective. Ruth told the man he didn't have the money so that he got them to ship three suites of furniture on credit to Gerard's and called a Virginia maker. "That cranked up business," Ruth said. "We offered out the hell of the furniture."
A couple of decades after, Ruth discovered about a store on Florida Boulevard that was up for sale for $500,000.
"It cost $2 million to revive the whole building," he explained.
Gerard's Furniture's Florida Boulevard location opened around 1975. The store won acclaim for the completeness Click This Link of the selection, which included art, furniture, fabrics, rugs and decorative accessories. 1 area is filled in the 1970s with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry includes a bunch of original Louisiana art and prints at a different area of the shop.
To round out the selection in Gerard's, Ruth visits with the furniture markets in North Carolina each six months to locate items.
"Baton Rouge has ever been interested in good taste and standard furniture," he explained. "The people who purchase fine furniture want to take a seat in it, would like to feel this, and when they have any understanding at all, unzip it and see what's inside ."
Over the years, Ruth has had health issues, such as diabetes and cancer. Recently, he had been diagnosed with lung disease. That led him to close the store after meeting with his wife and four kids.
"I got outvoted," he explained. The decision was made to liquidate the organization, Since his kids all have professional jobs.
"I never why not check here got rich, but I was able to raise four children, send them all off to college -- and not need to pay any institutions or attorneys to get them from trouble," he explained.
Regardless of his years in business, Ruth said he chose overnight to shut the shop.
"My family would go crazy trying to figure out everything in the furniture store," he explained.
He made a point of helping his children and eight grandchildren find items in the store to help decorate their homes.
Plans are to spend the next few months selling off all of the inventory in Gerard's. When everything is gone, the shop will close.
Ruth said he has seen a boost in clients, since declaring he was shutting down his organization. The day after it was announced he was shutting, 500 people showed up in the shop. The next day about 400 people were there.
"We had them come in from 20, 30, 40, even 50 years back to purchase things on our economy," he said. "It has been rewarding."