recovering chairs



Ruth got his start getting his neighborhood buddies to assist him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour and driving a delivery truck. Now, health problems are currently forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture store.

"I'm going to continue functioning. I got to deliver all this furniture."

This is actually the second time that Ruth has had a 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 stir crazy," he said. "So I came back."

Ironically, the company that assisted him with all the retirement sale back in 1996 is assisting him with this sale.

Ruth, 87, nevertheless does business like he always did. His store does not have a website. "I really don't text and I do not email," he said. "Only been a couple of years ago we got a computer for accounting."

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

"All that stuff on the world wide web, it's like going into the boats. It is gambling. You don't know exactly what you going to have," he explained. "Some of this leather is seconds, some of it's rejects."

Ruth started working at the furniture industry during his senior year at Baton Rouge High in Lloyd Furniture Co., at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU, then joined the Coast Guard.

In 1953, he returned to Baton Rouge and also to his job.



"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 in 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.

With Lewis Gottlieb, president of City National Bank, Ruth became friends Throughout the ship races. Some teams that were rushing were endorsed by gottlieb.

Ruth got a call. The owner of Simon Furniture Co. had died and his children weren't interested in taking over the business. Would Ruth be interested in owning a furniture store?

Gottlieb told him to have a look at the shop, and he'd help him finance the deal, if he was interested.

"It was a nice shop, and that I knew I could do some good on the market," Ruth explained. The issue was money. But he'd have a 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 into the lender," Ruth said. "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 store, Ruth sold furniture during Click Here the afternoon. In the evenings, he delivered the things he sold.

At that moment, the most popular trend in furniture was Mediterranean- and Spanish-style furniture. An effective Atlanta furniture salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and told Ruth, he had to get a few of those items in the store to ensure it is successful. Ruth told the guy he didn't have the money to purchase the furniture, so that he got them to ship three suites of furniture on credit to Gerard's and called a Virginia maker. "That really cranked up business," Ruth said. "We offered the hell out of the furniture."

A couple of years after, Ruth heard about a shop on Florida Boulevard that was up available for $500,000. Ruth checked the building at 7330 Florida Blvd. and chose to buy it and fix it up.

"It cost $2 million to revive the whole construction," he said. The loan was so large, it had to be divided between CNB and St. Landry Bank in Opelousas.

Gerard's Furniture's Florida Boulevard place opened around 1975. The store won nationwide acclaim for its completeness of the choice, which included art furniture, fabrics, rugs and accessories. 1 room is filled from the early 1970s with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry includes a gallery of original Louisiana art and prints in a different area of the store.

To round out the selection Ruth visits with the significant furniture markets in North Carolina.

"Baton Rouge has ever been interested in good taste use this link and traditional furniture," he explained. "The men and women who purchase fine furniture want to take a seat in it, want to feel it, and if they have any knowledge at all, unzip it and see what's inside it."

He had been diagnosed with lung disorder. That led him to close the store after meeting with four kids and his wife.

"I got outvoted," he said. Because his kids have professional jobs, the decision was made to liquidate the business.

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

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

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

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

Plans are to spend the next few months promoting of the inventory off . The store will close when all is gone.

Ruth said he's seen a boost in customers, since declaring he shut down his business. 500 people showed up in the store the day after it was announced he was shutting. The following day about 400 people were there.

"It's been rewarding."

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