Ruth got his start getting his neighborhood buddies to help him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour and driving a delivery truck. Now, health issues are forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture store.
"I'm gonna keep on functioning. I must deliver all this furniture"
Twenty-two decades back, when he turned 65, Ruth brought in an outside company to help him sell off the stock.
"So I came back."
Ironically, the company that helped him in 1996 back with the retirement sale is currently helping him with this going-out-of-business sale.
Like he always did ruth, 87, nevertheless does business. His store doesn't have a site. "I don't text and I do not email," he explained. "Just been a few years ago we have a computer for accounting."
Gerard's has a focus on luxury furniture made out of premium leather.
"All that stuff on the world wide web, it's like going to the boats. It is gambling. You don't know exactly what you going to get," he explained. "A number of this leather is seconds, some of it is rejects."
Ruth began working in the furniture business during his senior year at Baton Rouge High at Lloyd Furniture Co., at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU, then joined the Coast Guard.
He returned with the furniture shop to Baton Rouge and also to his occupation.
"I had been making $35 per week at Lloyd Furniture, then I got a offer from Hemenway's Furniture on Plank Road," he explained.
Throughout that time he was a salesman in Hemenway's, Ruth got into racing. He was a catalyst for the Tom Cat Baby, a ship with a Corvette engine that won the prestigious and dangerous Pan American race on Lake Pontchartrain.
Throughout the boat races, Ruth became friends with Lewis Gottlieb. Some teams that were rushing were endorsed by gottlieb.
Ruth got a call, 1 day. The owner of Simon Furniture Co. had expired and his children were not interested in taking over the business. Would Ruth be interested in owning a furniture store?
Gottlieb advised him to check the store out, and he'd help him finance the offer when he was interested.
"It was a great store, and that I knew I could do some good over there," Ruth explained. The problem was money. But he did have a $10,000 life insurance coverage he bought from a fellow member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb told me to bring him that insurance coverage to the lender," Ruth explained. "He told me'You're going to make it."
Gerard's Furniture opened in 1530 Foster Drive in 1966. There were three employees: the Ruths and a bookkeeper. Ruth sold furniture in the shop. In the evenings, he delivered the things he sold.
At that moment, the most popular trend in furniture has been Mediterranean- and Spanish-style furniture. A Atlanta furniture salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and advised Ruth, he had to get a few of those items in the store. Ruth told the man he did not have the money to buy the furniture, so that he got them to ship three suites of furniture on credit to Gerard's and phoned a Virginia manufacturer. "That really cranked up business," Ruth explained. "We sold out the hell of the furniture."
Ruth discovered about a shop on Florida Boulevard which was up for sale for $500,000.
Gerard's Furniture's Florida Boulevard find place opened around 1975. The store won national acclaim for the completeness of this selection, which included artwork, furniture, fabrics, rugs and decorative accessories. One room is filled with George Rodrigue prints from the early 1970s. His son Larry has a gallery of original Louisiana art and prints at a different part of the store.
To round out the selection at Gerard's, Ruth visits the major furniture markets in North Carolina every six months to locate items.
"Baton Rouge has always been interested in great taste and standard furniture," he explained. "The people who buy fine furniture want to sit inside, want to feel it, and when they have any knowledge at all, unzip it and see what's inside it."
He had been diagnosed with chronic lung disease. That led him to shut the store after meeting with four kids and his wife.
"I got outvoted," he explained. The decision was made to liquidate the organization, Since his kids 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 out of difficulty," he explained.
Regardless of his years in business, Ruth said he decided overnight to close the store.
"My family would go mad 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 store to help decorate their own homes.
Plans are to spend promoting off all the stock in Gerard's. The store will close when everything is gone.
Ruth said he has seen a boost in clients since declaring his organization useful link was shutting down. 500 people showed up at the shop the day after it was announced he was closing.
"It has been rewarding."