A Victim to A Victor: The Legacy of Mattress Mac and Gallery Furniture

Written by Grace Hare Photo Credits Gallery Furniture

¨Get out, go to work and make something out of your life,¨ the preacher said to a young Jim McIngvale. ¨Theres a lot of there out there who are throwing your lives away, wallowing in throes of self-pity, thinking that the world owes you a favor- but you owe the world a favor.¨

    When Jim McIngvale was fired from his first job at a gas station he was angry and living with feelings of hopelessness in his parent´s house when the words of a preacher on a Sunday church program changed his life.

    The next day, McIngvale found a job at a small furniture store two hours away from his town. He would ride the bus there and back, and the  experience would be critical in sparking his interest in opening his own furniture business venture of his own.

 ¨On the road to success, there will always be obstacles. They´re necessary for changing your mentality from a victim, to a victor. For me, an important obstacle was riding the bus every day when I worked at that job¨ McIngvale said. 

  McIngvale graduated from college with a degree in business from North Texas State, after a short career as a college football player. 

  ¨I went into business and was terrible failure, I had a bad attitude I thought I was entitled to nice things without working for it,¨ McIngvale said.

  When he began working at the furniture store in Dallas, McIngvale realized that he wanted to open one of his own. After asking around, he learned with a resounding finality, that Houston was the best city in order to sell furniture. 

  McIngvale went to dinner with his girlfriend the night he had decided to open a furniture store. 

  ¨I said ´Weŕe gonna move to Houston and get into the furniture business, ´¨ McIngvale said.

  At first, Linda was astounded and told him no: her life, friends, and family were all in Dallas. Yet, McIngvale was dedicated to his dream.  Eventually, Linda agreed under one circumstance.

  ¨You´re going to have to marry me first,¨ Linda McIngvale said. 

  In 1981, the newlyweds moved to Houston, Texas. 

  ¨We had no bank capital, no business experience, the odds of us making it were about 10,000 to 1, we had no money, no experience; but we had a great big unfair advantage. That unfair advantage was called desire,¨ McIngvale said. 

  When he opened Gallery Furniture, McIngvale took a leap of faith. He gathered attention quickly for his fast sale pitches and his discounted prices. Now, McIngvale is known by many as ¨Mattress Mac¨ and is somewhat of a celebrity. He even has his own ice cream flavor,  and is asked to speak at local functions.

¨Mattress Mac teaches a lot about the importance of hard work ethic and making your own path,¨ Thomas Whitson said. ¨He is really inspirational.΅ Whitson heard a speech by McIngvale at a local function for Strake Jesuit Preparatory school.

Speaking to students and Houstonians is something that McIngvale is a way of outreach to his community. One of the things he loves most about the city is the entrepreneurial spirit, and he does his role to help cultivate this.

  ¨I think Houston is full of people who were unafraid to take risks and what makes Houston a great place is we think big and accomplish big dreams together,” McIngvale said. 

  McIngvale´s chain of three Gallery Furniture stores has become a tourist attraction. He has complimentary snacks, a full restaurant, a monkey and exotic bird exhibit, and an indoor playground all in his furniture store.

  ¨ Hard work, outstanding service, quality furniture, and unique attractions make furniture shopping fun for visitors of all ages,¨ the official Gallery Furniture website said. 

  During the damages of Hurricane Harvey and the 2021 winter storm, McIngvale opened up the store to Houstonians. 

  ¨I wasn’t going to let anybody drown if I could help it.  We have lots of food, lots of places for people to sleep,¨ McIngvale said. ¨These are my people, where else would they go? We saw the goodness of humanity during those very dark times.¨

  Most recently, McIngvale anticipates opening education centers to help people get certifications for jobs and daycare centers to help his employees that pay over one thousand dollars on childcare.

¨I believe we all deserve Godś grace and God´s love,¨ Mattress Mac said. ¨Surround yourself with people you love and care about each other, and support one another during the good times or the bad.¨

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