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This Mattress Store Owner Has Taken in Hundreds of Harvey Victims

More than 400 displaced residents have taken refuge in Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale's furniture superstores.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photo via Jim McIngvale's Facebook page

Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale is a local celebrity in Houston, where he's owned and operated his chain of Gallery Furnitures since the 80s. He's notorious for airing wild commercials—strapping mattresses to the tops of sports cars, making fun of his own acting chops, and donning a makeshift mattress costume before delivering his tagline: "Gallery Furniture saves you money!"

But Mattress Mack is just as well known for his generosity: He reportedly fed 20,000 Houstonians on Thanksgiving in the 90s, and when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, he welcomed 200 people displaced by the storm into his store. Now that Hurricane Harvey has left his hometown in crisis, he's at it again—opening up more than 150,000 square feet of gallery space to folks in need of a place to stay.


According to NPR, at least 400 people have taken refuge in two of Gallery Furniture's Houston locations, where McIngvale has offered up all the couches, futons, love seats, and beds he has in stock, free of charge. Aside from a warm, dry place to stay, he's outfitting everyone who comes by with clean clothes, food, and water.

"We will come out of this stronger and better than ever before," McIngvale said in a Facebook video. "Yes, it's very trying right now. Yes, there's a lot of heartbreak right now. But we are Texans. We will help each other, as we've done for 200 years."

On Sunday, McIngvale put out a blast on social media letting residents know two of his largest showrooms were open to folks in need of a place to stay. As flood victims poured in, McIngvale sent out a team with delivery trucks to pick up those who still hadn't made it out of danger, broadcasting his personal cellphone number on Facebook and asking anyone in trouble to give him a call.

"All day on Sunday we went around rescuing people out of high water stranded on overpasses," he told CNN. "We brought about 200 people into the store that way."

Since then, the place has turned into a "a slumber party on steroids," McIngvale told NPR.

"We never stepped foot in [one of his stores] and now I'm just like, wow, I mean, they opened up the doors," Magdalena Marez, who's camping out in Gallery Furniture, told CNN. "He didn't even second guess it. He was just like, 'Let me help you.'"

Unlike a certain celebrity pastor who took a hot minute to open up his 606,000-square-foot Houston megachurch to hurricane victims, Mattress Mack didn't hesitate to welcome people in—despite the fact that it's costing him upward of $30,000 to do it.

"We can afford that," he told CBS News. "What we can't afford is to cause these people to lose hope. We gotta give 'em hope."

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