Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is not just known as a furniture giant in the Houston area. He is equally known for being an incredibly generous philanthropist. In 2017 after hurricane Harvey pummeled Houston, McIngvale opened his stores as shelters to displaced Houstonians, and also in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina sent thousands of evacuees over the border from Louisiana.
His stores are equipped with massive generators that are capable of powering the showroom for several days if needed, so when millions of his neighbors were left without power in below freezing temperatures, he didn’t hesitate to open his stores’ doors once more. Not only is he providing shelter, he’s also providing food for those staying in his stores, even though it costs him an exorbitant amount of money.
“We can afford that and what we can’t afford is to cause these people to lose hope, we got to give them hope,” he said to CBS. “This is what my parents would have done.”
“Least we could do is open this furniture store to let people come into a warmer place,” Mattress Mack told CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV. “Sofas and plenty available TVs, plenty of available mattresses, plenty of available and lots of hot food.
His kindness did not have any limits, as his guests lounged and slept on furniture and beds with $5,000 while Mattress Mack walked around handing out donuts and kolaches. Tuesday evening saw more than 300 people staying the night in his showrooms. 29-year-old Stephanie Anderson and her 8-year-old son, Jaden, spent Monday night huddled together under three blankets in their freezing home, which had lost power that day.
When Stephanie saw that Gallery Furniture had opened its Houston and Richmond showrooms as shelters, she headed over there Tuesday where she and Jaden were able to sleep in warmth and peace. Jaden also could play on the massive indoor playground the showrooms have, where the laughter of other children could be heard.
“I’m just thankful that we’re here and we’re warm. If we didn’t come here, I’m afraid we would still be at home,” she said.
Denistra Hunt and her family were others who took advantage of McIngvale’s generosity.
“We spent the night, pretty much, in the cold, which is something I’ve never done,” she told KHOU. “With a 2-year-old, it was dreadful. We all just got in one bed and covered up.”
Power has since been restored to the Houston area, and Mattress Mack and his Gallery Furniture can prepare for the next time they can step up to care for their neighbors.