Ruth got his start at the furniture industry receiving his neighborhood buddies to help him haul mattresses and driving a delivery truck. Now, health problems are forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture store.
"I ain’t going house to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting at the center of the Florida Boulevard showroom. "I'm gonna keep on functioning. I got to deliver all this furniture."
This is the second time that Ruth has had a sale. Twenty-two decades ago, when he turned 65, Ruth brought to help the stock is sold off by him.
Paradoxically, the same firm that assisted him in 1996 back with all the retirement sale is currently helping him with this going-out-of-business sale.
Like he did ruth, 87 does business. His store does not have a site. "I really don't text and that I don't email," he said. "Only been a couple of years ago we have a computer for bookkeeping."
Gerard's has a focus on high-end, American-made furniture.
"All that stuff on the internet, it's like going into the boats. It's gambling. You do not understand exactly what you are going to get," he said. "A number of the leather is seconds, some of it is rejects."
Ruth started working at the furniture industry during his senior year at Baton Rouge High at Lloyd Furniture Co., at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU joined the Coast Guard.
In 1953, he returned to Baton Rouge and to his occupation with the furniture store.
"I was making $35 per week at Lloyd Furniture, then I got a offer from Hemenway's Furniture on Plank Road," he said.
He had been a salesman at Hemenway's, Ruth got into hydroplane racing. He was a catalyst for the Tom Cat Baby, a ship with a Corvette engine that won the most dangerous and prestigious Pan American race on Lake Pontchartrain in 1958.
Throughout the boat races, Ruth became buddies with Lewis Gottlieb, president of City National Bank. Some teams that were racing were backed by gottlieb.
Ruth got a call from Gottlieb 1 day. The owner of Simon Furniture Co. had expired and his children were not interested in taking over the enterprise. Would Ruth be interested in having a furniture shop?
Gottlieb told him to have a look at the store, and he'd help him fund the deal, if he had been interested.
"It was a nice store, and that I knew I could do some good on the market," Ruth said. The problem was money. But he did have a life insurance coverage he bought from a member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb advised me to deliver him that insurance policy to the bank," Ruth said. "He told me'You're going to create it."
The Furniture of gerard started in 1530 Foster Drive in 1966. There were three workers: the Ruths and a bookkeeper. Ruth sold furniture. In the evenings, he also delivered the things he offered.
At that time, the hottest trend in furniture was Mediterranean- and Spanish-style furniture. A Atlanta furniture salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and advised Ruth, he needed to get a few of those items in the store. Ruth told the man he didn't have the money so he called a Virginia manufacturer and got them to ship three suites of furniture on credit to Gerard's. "That cranked business up," Ruth explained. "We offered out the hell of that furniture."
Ruth discovered about a store. Ruth checked the construction at 7330 Florida Blvd. and chose to purchase it and fix it up.
"It cost $2 million to restore the whole construction," he explained. The loan was so big, it was divided between CNB and St. Landry Bank in Opelousas.
Gerard's Furniture's Florida Boulevard location opened around 1975. The store won national acclaim for its completeness of the selection, which included fabrics, artwork, furniture, rugs and decorative accessories. One area is filled company website in the 1970s with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry has a gallery of original Louisiana art and prints at another area of the store.
To round out the selection at Gerard's, Ruth and the significant furniture markets visit in North Carolina.
"Baton Rouge has ever been interested in great taste and traditional furniture," he explained. "The people who buy fine furniture want to take a seat inside, would like to feel it, and if they have any understanding at all, unzip it and see what's inside ."
Recently, he had been diagnosed with chronic lung disease. That led the store to close after meeting with four children and his wife.
"I got outvoted," he said. Since his kids have professional occupations, the decision was made to liquidate the business.
"I never got rich, but I was able to raise four kids, send them browse this site off to school -- and not need to pay any associations or lawyers to get them from difficulty," he said.
Regardless of his years in business, Ruth stated he decided to shut the store.
"My family would go mad trying to work out everything at the furniture store," he said.
He made a point of helping his children and eight grandchildren find items in the shop to help decorate their homes.
Plans are to spend selling off all of the stock . The shop will close when everything is gone.
Ruth said he has seen a increase in clients since announcing his business was shutting down. 500 people showed up in the store, the day after it was announced he was shutting. The next day about 400 people were there.
"We had them come from 20, 30, 40, even 50 years ago to purchase things on our economy," he said. "It has been rewarding."