Jim McIngvale's furniture store has been in the news a lot the last few days.
As floodwaters rose in Houston and people were forced from their homes, McIngvale opened the doors of Gallery Furniture stores and converted them to shelters, taking in as many as 400 people each in two locations.
Many of the refugees left last night to begin the clean-up of their own homes, so now the focus returns to running a business — but McIngvale says those who are still living out of the store will be welcome to stay "indefinitely."
"Someone said, 'Are you going to be a shelter or a furniture store?'" he says. "There's no reason we can't be both."
Gallery Furniture may not have been on the national radar before Hurricane Harvey, but the company has had a long love affair with Houstonians. Founded in 1981, it has since expanded to three locations and boasts roughly 400 employees. McIngvale, who's better known as Mattress Mack around town, has given away furniture to restore teachers lounges in school, donated extensively to local charities and, since 1983, given away households of furniture to families in need.
"Our business philosophy is ... we all have a responsibility to the well-being of our community," he says. "That's the central theme of our culture here. We know that if we help these citizens when they're in need, they will help us."
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It's a proven philosophy. In 2009 a warehouse fire destroyed $20 million worth of Gallery Furniture's inventory, and McIngvale says the situation was dire. But the community rallied to help the company out.
"We were basically out of business," he says. "People came in the next morning and bought furniture just to keep us going."
Gallery Furniture is a long way from being out of business today. The chain is ranked as the 52nd largest in the country by Furniture Today, with estimated sales of $148.1 million.