Abraham J. Roth (c.1888-1973) immigrated to Pittsburgh from Austria in 1910. About 1912, he married Sophie Rudick (c.1891-1989), who had immigrated to the city from Romania in 1903. They had five children, Bernard, Ruth, Jean, Elaine and Shirley.
After selling cigars in the Hill District, Abraham “A. J.” Roth purchased Shadyside Cleaners and Dyers on Graham Street in the mid-1920s. The business went under during the Great Depression. Wanting to have better understanding of the trade, A. J. and his son Bernard Roth traveled to Toledo, Ohio, in the early 1930s, to learn from a cousin who was also working in the field. When the muddy waters of the St. Patrick Day flood of March 1936 damaged rugs throughout the downtown area, Roth ran a makeshift rug cleaning operation out of the basement of a movie theater in Swissvale owned by his brother Morris Roth. In 1941, Roth Cleaners moved to Kelly Street in Homewood.
Bernard Roth assumed a more managerial role in the company after he returned from military service. Among his initiatives was advertising heavily in print and radio. “Ladies,” ran one radio spot in May 1954. “It’s spring-cleaning time again, the most logical time in the year to have all your rugs carefully cleaned by Roth Rug Cleaners.”
Between 1950 and 1954, the company began selling and installing rugs in addition to cleaning them and gradually changed its name to Roth Rug and Carpet Company. By the late 1960s, Roth Carpet was operating nine retail stores and a rug cleaning plant. The expenses of the operation proved too large to survive a weak economy, and the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 1971. A Delaware-based investor purchased a fifty percent stake in Roth Carpet and restructured the company as a discount warehouse, maintaining large inventories on site and underselling the department stores.
A third generation, Richard Roth, took over the business in 1985. Although profitable through the 1980s and 1990s, Roth Carpet later faced competition from a former supplier. Roth Carpet began a rebranding effort in 1999, but downturns in the economy took a serious toll on the company. Roth Carpet liquidated and closed its doors in 2009.