Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale opened more than his heart to fellow Texans on Sunday. He opened two of his three large furniture stores in the Houston area to people displaced by Tropical Storm Harvey.
“For a couple hundred years Texans have banded together and helped each other. We will help each other now get through this crisis of flooding and hurricane,” McIngvale said in a live Facebook video on Sunday.
“We have food, beds, and clean bathrooms for anyone in need!” his company, Gallery Furniture, posted on its Facebook.
McIngvale welcomed animals too, if kenneled by an owner’s side.
By Monday evening, both locations were at capacity. They even housed National Guard troops seeking respite between rescue missions.
On Tuesday afternoon, McIngvale opened one of the locations to more people.
“Thank you to every volunteer, and our service men and women for their brave and unwavering compassion during this difficult time,” he wrote on Facebook.
His social media pages were replete with praise and thanks.
“Jim mcinvale you and your family make us proud and always have! Gallery is a Houston icon and THIS stuff is why,” wrote Erika Miller Spector, a young mother from the Houston suburb of Richmond.
“Sometimes in life those closest to you surprise you in ways even beyond your realm of thought,” wrote McIngvale’s daughter Laura McIngvale Brown on her Facebook. “Dad, it doesn’t surprise me on it you opened the stores to our fellow Houstonians, you would give your last breath for another, but it still amazes me how selfless you are. More than any being on earth, I hope I’m half the person you are one day. During these horrific 5 days my faith in humanity has been restored over and over, and you Dad are at the top of that list.”
On Tuesday, McIngvale thanked several restaurants that provided food to the people he sheltered as well as volunteers and his staff. They included Steak 48, Masraff’s, Cousins Maine Lobster, Jason’s Deli, and Lopez Mexican Restaurant.
Lopez opened Tuesday with a limited menu, pledging all profits to shelters in Fort Bend County, a Houston suburb. “All first responders eat free!” it posted on Twitter.
This wasn’t the first time McIngvale turned a showroom into a shelter. He did so during last year’s flood and also during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“We did this during Katrina, and we had a couple hundred people stranded for a couple days,” he told CNN. “We have tons of mattresses in our warehouse and we can provide everyone with a blanket.”
While Katrina brought much stronger winds, Harvey has already broken the record for a single-storm rainfall—over 50 inches, the National Weather Service reported—more than the average rainfall the area gets in a year.
“With God’s grace we all get through this better and stronger than ever because that’s who we are—we are Texans,” McIngvale said in his video.