Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is the owner of two Gallery Furniture stores, which include a massive (160,000-square-foot) furniture store and showroom located just outside of Houston. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Mattress Mack has opened his businesses up to local evacuees fleeing the wrath of the unprecedented weather system, housing hundreds of displaced Houston residents in what have become temporary shelters.
As NPR reports, the furniture store owner is well known in the Houston area for his quirky television commercials — and his kindness. This isn’t the first time Mattress Mack has turned his showrooms into shelter from the storm. He did the same 12 years ago after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Louisiana coast. This time around, when Mattress Mack realized the extent of the flooding and devastation in Houston, he posted an offer to help online.
The Houston furniture store owner shared a simple video that included an invitation to the displaced to “come on over,” even including his personal cell phone number. When some Harvey evacuees let Mattress Mack know that they couldn’t safely traverse Houston’s heavily flooded roads, the kind-hearted Mack sent delivery trucks and drivers to rescue the stranded and bring them to his warm, dry and safe furniture showrooms.
“We put out a Facebook feed that we were going to rescue people, because there was so much need. The city and the local authorities did a great job; they just couldn’t get to all the 911 calls.”
According to Mattress Mack, displaced Harvey victims are now sleeping on every available piece of furniture in his showrooms. From recliners to sleeper sofas to mattresses and love seats, the furniture store owner has made everything he has available to those hit hardest by Harvey, many of whom left their flooded homes with little more than the clothes on their backs.
“We sell home theater furniture that you watch TV in, they’re sleeping on that. They’re sleeping on recliners, sleeping on sofas and love seats. We have sleeper sofas, they pulled them out and slept on that. They’re sleeping on hundreds of mattresses throughout the store. They’re sleeping on the couches — wherever they can find a place that’s comfortable, and God bless ’em.”
In all, about 400 people are now being sheltered at each of Mattress Mack’s Houston furniture stores, something the thoughtful owner probably never considered when having the places built. Reportedly, both stores were designed to be virtually “floodproof,” having been built on elevated concrete slabs.
In addition to providing a warm, dry place for Harvey evacuees to stay, CNN reports that Mattress Mack and local donors have made sundry supplies, from clothing to toys to shoes and towels, available to so many people who have lost so much. Mattress Mack, along with local food service businesses, is also making sure his temporary guests have plenty of food and water — he has even taken to Twitter to thank donors for their generosity.
The flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey hasn’t only displaced human Houston residents, but thousands of their pets as well. Many have been found stranded and abandoned as emergency workers and volunteers continue their struggle to rescue everyone who may still be stuck in the waterlogged city. Mattress Mack is even doing his part to ensure that local animals make it through the unprecedented disaster safe and sound. Both of his furniture stores are open to pets, too.
“All day on Sunday we went around rescuing people out of high water stranded on overpasses. We brought about 200 people into the store that way.”
It has been reported that Mattress Mack is opening his stores up to evacuees, many of whom don’t know if they have anything to go back to, for as long as they want. In addition to hundreds of evacuees, the Houston furniture store owner has opened his facilities up to dozens of National Guard troops, giving them somewhere to rest comfortably between their dangerous shifts of rescuing Harvey’s remaining victims.
According to evacuees finding shelter under Mattress Mack’s roofs, when they arrived they were given toiletry kits including soap and toothbrushes — the generous store owner is even paying for portable showers. While many are blown away by the Houston furniture store owner’s extreme generosity, his employees say that’s just his way. According to one, Mattress Mack is just trying to give back to the community that’s made him so successful over the last 36 years.
[Featured Image by David J. Phillip/AP Images]