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A Business Owner Who Dreams Big


Sunday, May 19, 2019
The Ballroom at Bayou Place

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is the owner of Gallery Furniture, which has three locations in Houston. The story of his first store is the stuff of legend. Jim and his wife, Linda, started Gallery Furniture in 1981 at an abandoned model home park in Houston with $5,000 and a red pickup truck. Today, Gallery Furniture is a multimillion-dollar business and the 52nd largest furniture store in the United States. Even with multiple locations, Gallery Furniture continues to live up to its original promise of delivering quality furniture, mattresses, and electronics “today.” The store sells more furniture per square foot of retail space than any other in the world.

Jim’s nickname comes from the fact that, in his early commercials, he was dressed up like a mattress. Famous for his TV commercials that feature his fast-talking sales pitch, Jim, who knows the importance of brand identification, still stars in them and still dons unique costumes. None of these things have changed since 1981, nor have the last three words of each commercial: “Save You Money!” It’s a recipe that continues to be successful for this go-getter entrepreneur. In September 2018, Jim received the McLane Leadership in Business Award.

Even entering a Gallery Furniture can be an event. Customers have been delighted by furniture-making demonstrations, trampolines made from mattresses, and animal exhibits.

Jim is also known for his inventive promotions. One such promotion was held to celebrate his 63rd birthday. For the occasion, Jim bet his customers that the Houston Astros, who weren’t doing well at the time, couldn’t win 63 games (the same number as his birthday). They won 70. The success of Gallery Furniture is embodied in Jim’s strong commitment to hard work and his lively approach to pleasing the customer.

Jim was born in Starkville, Mississippi. He and his family moved to Dallas, where he went to high school and met his future wife, Linda. While in university, Jim played football for both the University of Texas and the University of North Texas. Seeing Houston as a city of opportunity, Jim and Linda, who are the proud parents of three children, moved to Houston in 1981. The rest is history.

Though known for his business sense, fearlessness, and advertising savvy, Jim is also well-known and highly regarded for his love of Texas, the city of Houston, and his generosity. One of the most uplifting stories to come out of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey occurred when Jim opened some of his stores to Houston families who needed shelter during the terrible storm. Each store provided food, water, and mattresses, as well as the promised shelter. His generosity didn’t end there, however. Well after Harvey was gone, Jim continued to donate money, furniture, and even Super Bowl tickets to its victims.

Gallery Furniture is involved with a number of charitable projects. It has become a USO Strategic Partner Sponsor and is involved with refurnishing, redesigning, and revitalizing the over 130 USO centers worldwide. Its annual Christmas Giveaway has provided new furniture to Houston-area families in need for over 30 years. For the 30th anniversary of the giveaway, 30 families received brand new furniture.

Together, Jim and Linda have been devoted supporters of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, whose proceeds go toward providing college scholarships for students. Passionate about sports, Jim funded the building of the Houston Rockets practice facility. In 1994, he and Linda hosted a celebration for the Rockets when they won the NBA Championship, which was broadcast live. As owners of the Westside Tennis Center, Jim and Linda have brought many top names in tennis to Houston for annual tournaments.

One of Jim’s greatest joys is to share his story with others. He does so by giving speeches at schools and to community groups. In 2002, Jim co-authored the book, Always Think Big chronicling his life’s successes and failures.

The combination of his extensive philanthropy, daily speaking engagements, and his television commercials for Gallery Furniture have made Jim one of the most respected and recognizable people in Houston. Those who work with him have more stories than can be chronicled describing how he goes into action and helps out whenever he hears of someone in need.

CKW LUXE would like to congratulate Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale for being a CKW LUXE Top 20 CEOs and Entrepreneurs Awards recipient for 2019.

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