After 70 years in the furniture business, his business is being shut down by Gerard Ruth.
Ruth got his start in the furniture business getting his neighborhood friends to assist him haul mattresses and driving a delivery truck. Now, health issues are currently forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture shop.
"I ain’t going house to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting at the middle of the Florida Boulevard showroom. "I am gonna keep on functioning. 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 to help him sell off the stock.
"I went home, and after about 10 days, I went crazy," he explained. "So I came back."
Paradoxically, the company that assisted him with the retirement sale back in 1996 is helping him with this going-out-of-business sale.
Like he always did 87, ruth , nevertheless does business. His store does not have a website. "I really don't text and I do not email," he said. "Only been a few years ago we got a computer for bookkeeping."
Gerard's includes a focus on American-made furniture made with premium leather.
"All that stuff on the world wide web, it's like going into the ships. It is gambling. You don't understand what you going to have," he said. "A number of this leather is seconds, some of it is rejects."
Ruth began working at the furniture business during his senior year in Baton Rouge High in Lloyd Furniture Co., then at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU joined the Coast Guard during the Korean War.
He returned to his job and to Baton Rouge with the furniture shop.
"I was making $35 per week in Lloyd Furniture, then I got an offer from Hemenway's Furniture on Plank Road," he said.
He had been a salesman at Hemenway's, Ruth got into racing. He was a catalyst for the Tom Cat Baby, a boat with a Corvette engine that won the most prestigious and dangerous Pan American race on Lake Pontchartrain in 1958.
With Lewis Gottlieb, Ruth became buddies Throughout the boat races. Gottlieb backed some racing teams.
Ruth got a call from Gottlieb. The proprietor of Simon Furniture Co. had expired and his kids weren't interested in taking over the business. Would Ruth be interested in owning a furniture store?
Gottlieb advised the shop to be checked out by him, and he'd help him fund the offer when he was look at this site 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 couple hundred dollars after paying the hospital bill. But he did have a $10,000 life insurance policy he bought from a member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb advised me to deliver him that insurance coverage to the bank," Ruth said. "He told me'You are going to create it."
Gerard's Furniture opened in 1530 Foster Drive in 1966. There were three workers: a bookkeeper and the Ruths. Ruth sold furniture in the shop. In the evenings, he also delivered the things he offered.
At that time, the 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 a few of those things in the store to make it effective. Ruth told the man he did not have the money to purchase the furnitureso that he phoned a Virginia maker and got them to send three suites of furniture on credit to Gerard's. "That really cranked up business," Ruth explained. "We sold the hell out of the furniture"
A couple of years after, Ruth heard about a store on Florida Boulevard which was up for sale for $500,000.
"It cost $2 million to revive the whole construction," he said. The loan was so big, it was split between CNB and St. Landry Bank in Opelousas.
The Florida Boulevard place of Gerard's Furniture opened around 1975. The shop won acclaim for its completeness of the choice, which included fabrics, artwork, furniture, rugs and decorative accessories. 1 area is filled with George Rodrigue prints from the 1970s. His son Larry includes a bunch of original Louisiana art and prints in another area of the shop.
To round out the selection in Gerard's, Ruth visits the major furniture markets in North Carolina.
"Baton Rouge has always been interested in good taste and standard furniture," he said. "The people who buy nice furniture want to sit in it, would like to feel it, and if they have any knowledge at all, unzip it and see what's inside it."
Recently, he was diagnosed with chronic lung disease. That led him to close the store after meeting with four children and his wife.
The choice was made to liquidate the organization Since his children have professional jobs.
"I never got rich, but I managed 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 said.
Despite his years in business, Ruth stated he chose overnight to close the store.
"My family would go mad trying to work out everything in the furniture store," he said.
He also made a point of helping his kids and eight grandchildren find items in the store to help decorate their houses.
Plans are to spend selling off all the stock . When all is gone, the shop will close.
Ruth said he's seen a boost in clients, since announcing he shut down his organization. 500 people showed up in the shop, the day his response after it was announced he was closing.
"We had them come in from 20, 30, 40, even 50 years back to buy things on our economy," he said. "It has been rewarding."