furniture



After 70 years in the furniture business, his company is shutting down.

Ruth got his start in the furniture industry receiving his neighborhood buddies to assist him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour and driving a delivery truck. 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 in the center of the Florida Boulevard showroom. "I'm gonna continue functioning. I got to deliver all this furniture."

This is actually the second time that Ruth has had a sale. Twenty-two decades back, 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 the retirement sale is assisting him with this going-out-of-business sale.

Like he always did, ruth, 87 does business. His shop does not have a website. "I really don't text and that I don't email," he explained. "Only been a few years ago we got a computer for bookkeeping."

Gerard's includes a focus on luxury, American-made furniture.

"All that stuff on the world wide web, it is like going to the boats. It is gambling. You do not know what you are going to have," he said. "Some of this leather is seconds, some of it's rejects."

Ruth started working at the furniture industry 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.

In 1953, he returned with the furniture shop to Baton Rouge and to his job.



"I was making $35 a week in Lloyd Furniture, then I got an offer from Hemenway's Furniture on Plank Road," he said.

He was a salesman in Hemenway's, Ruth got into hydroplane racing. He was a driver for your Tom Cat Baby, a boat with a Corvette engine which won the dangerous and prestigious Pan American race on Lake Pontchartrain.

With Lewis Gottlieb, Ruth became friends Throughout the boat races. Gottlieb endorsed some racing teams.

Ruth got a call one day. The proprietor of Simon Furniture Co. had expired and his kids weren't interested in taking over the business. Can Ruth be interested in having a furniture store?

Gottlieb advised him to check out the shop, and when he had been interested, he would help him finance the offer.

"It was a nice shop, and that I knew I could do some good over there," Ruth said. The problem was money. But he did have a life insurance policy he bought from a member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.

"Mr. Gottlieb advised me Resources to bring him that insurance policy to the bank," Ruth explained. "He told me'You're going to create it."

The Furniture of gerard started at 1530 Foster Drive in 1966. There were three workers: a bookkeeper and the Ruths. In the shop, Ruth sold furniture during the day. In the evenings, he delivered the items he news offered.

At that time, the hottest trend in furniture has been Mediterranean- and Spanish-style furniture. An effective Atlanta furniture salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and told Ruth he had to find a few of those items in the store to ensure it is effective. Ruth told the man he didn't have the money so he phoned a Virginia maker and got them to ship three suites of Mediterranean-style furniture to Gerard's on credit. "That really cranked business up," Ruth explained. "We offered out the hell of that furniture."

A couple of decades after, Ruth heard about a store. Ruth checked out the construction at 7330 Florida Blvd. and chose to buy it and fix it up.



The Florida Boulevard place of the Furniture of Gerard opened around 1975. The store won acclaim for its completeness of the selection, which included furniture, artwork, fabrics, rugs and decorative accessories. 1 room is filled with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry prints at another part of the shop and has a bunch of original Louisiana art.

To round out the selection Ruth visits the major furniture markets in North Carolina each six months to find items.

"Baton Rouge has always been interested in great taste and traditional furniture," he explained. "The people who purchase nice furniture want to take a seat in it, want to feel this, and if they have any knowledge at all, unzip it and see what is inside it."

Through the years, Ruth has had health problems, such as diabetes and cancer. Recently, he had been diagnosed with lung disease. That led the store to close after meeting with his wife and four kids.

The choice was made to liquidate the organization Since his kids have professional occupations.

"I never got rich, but I was able to raise four kids, send them all off to college -- and not have to pay any associations or attorneys to get them from difficulty," he said.

Despite his years in business, Ruth said he decided overnight to shut the shop.

"My family would go mad trying to work out everything in the furniture shop," he explained.

He also made a point of helping eight grandchildren and his children find items in the store to help decorate their own homes.

Plans are to spend the next few months selling all of the stock off . The shop will close, when all is gone.

Ruth said he's seen a boost in customers since announcing he shut down his business. The day after it was announced he closed, 500 people showed up at the shop.

"It has been rewarding."

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