Meet the Man Who Turned His Furniture Stores Into Shelters for Harvey Victims
W hen Jim McIngvale woke up on Sunday morning, his home was filled with about two to three feet of floodwater. Once he was able to get out, the popular furniture store owner — better known as “Mattress Mack” — headed to work and saw the devastating damage and impact that Hurricane Harvey already had on Houston.
When he arrived at Gallery Furniture, one of his several stores in the city, he made a decision: He would open a couple of his locations as shelters for his fellow Houstonians. Since Sunday, 400 people have gathered at those locations, where they are welcome to sleep on the brand new sets of furniture that occupy the floors. Each store — designed to be flood-proof on elevated concrete — also has bathrooms, showers and an in-store restaurant.
For McIngvale, a well-known figure in the city who has a history of donating to charitable causes, opening his furniture stores as shelters was an easy decision.
“Being together in a space is helpful for all of us,” McIngvale told TIME. “People don’t feel like they’re on their own.”
Before so many displaced residents came to McIngvale’s stores, he posted the invitation on social media and offered to use his company’s moving trucks to rescue people trapped in their homes or stranded on highways. From about 2 p.m. on Sunday until 1 a.m., he said, 10 to 15 of his company’s moving trucks took to the flooded streets and helped rescue about 200 people.
“More than anything, for what looks like 100 miles is just water, water, water everywhere,” he said. “It’s really stressing to the community, but we’re all positive we’re going to come together.”
During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, McIngvale opened two of his stores to 200 people who had fled New Orleans seeking shelter. Back then, those impacted by Katrina stayed for about two days. McIngvale does not know how long Houstonians inhabiting his stores now will stay there — but his furniture stores will be open as long as they need it. “We’re just trying to supplement where we can,” he said.
Some of those staying have even begun chipping in on administrative tasks to manage the shelter, like helping make food. And others have helped by donating items like baby formula. “It reaffirms your faith in mankind when you see people coming in and giving up what they don’t need,” McIngvale said. “There’s an incredible outpouring of support. It’s just tremendous.”
Column: ‘Mattress Mack’ could lose $15 million if Astros win World Series. He’s OK with that
Jim McIngvale isn’t much of a gambler. At least that’s what the Houston furniture store owner known as “Mattress Mack” claims when asked about the big wagers he has made.
“I couldn’t pick a big dog out in a room full of Chihuahuas,” he said. “I don’t gamble. I hedge.”
Whatever you want to call it, McIngvale has sports books across Nevada looking the other way when his name comes up.
Two years ago, McIngvale, 68, who earned his nickname by wearing a mattress in local ads, offered a refund on any mattress purchase of at least $3,000 if the Astros won the World Series. He hedged the promotion through insurance policies and multiple six-figure bets on Houston at various sports books.
When the Astros won, McIngvale returned about $13 million in mattresses. But by successfully hedging the bet, he lost only about $1 million — a small price to pay for the exposure he got.
“The word of mouth on the promotion was remarkable in 2017,” McIngvale said. “Everyone knew about it. We developed loyal customers with over 60% buying more furniture.”
Looking to make a similar splash this fall, McIngvale is offering the same deal and is currently on the hook for more than $15 million in mattresses if the Astros win the World Series. There’s only one problem: This time, insurance companies and sports books aren’t offering the same deal when it comes to the hedge.
McIngvale didn’t look to hedge on his promotion until last month, after the Astros had added pitcher Zack Greinke at the trade deadline. They currently have the best record in baseball and are favored to win the World Series at most sports books. The favorable insurance rates and odds he got two years ago when the Dodgers were favored are no longer available.
“I bought a huge insurance policy before where I didn’t have to do much hedging in Nevada,” he said. “I don’t have any insurance this year. The reason is, the Astros have been hot all year and the insurance rates weren’t as good as they were, and then the Astros got Greinke and became the favorites. So I’ve had to hedge in Nevada, but the Astros are more prohibitive favorites, so the price is lower.”
McIngvale had his attorney reach out to Anthony Curtis, a gambler who publishes the popular Las Vegas Advisor newsletter and various books on gambling. Many sports books that had happily taken McIngvale’s action two years ago were now turning him away, so he needed a local to help him out.
“Insurance is gambling, it has to do with odds and that’s how they set prices,” Curtis said. “So Mack didn’t pursue the policy fast enough before they made their big moves. So they gave him a cost that wasn’t as good as he could do by just going to the gambling market.
“The problem is the sports books don’t want to cooperate. I’m flabbergasted by their reticence. They’re worried about their balance sheets. This isn’t a professional gambler with an edge. This is a businessman looking to hedge and they should accept his bet, but they’re not and it stuns me. We can’t make legal bets for him and it’s disappointing.”
Many of the sports books that turned down McIngvale’s money or capped a possible wager in the low five figures wouldn’t go on the record to explain why, but privately they each had a similar reasoning for their decision: They like the Astros to win the World Series, and they like their current position on the wagering and don’t want to lose it all on one massive out-of-town bet.
Hard Work, Great Ambition
Jim"Mattress Mack"McIngvale has always believed in God, country, family, and hard work. A tireless powerhouse, Mack is usually found standing at the front desk of the original Gallery Furniture store on North Freeway, greeting every customer and overseeing the sales activities of the store, seven days a week. Mack is the hardest working person you will ever meet! He never stops moving and trying to get better, and his energy is infectious to all who come in contact with this Houston icon.
With only $5,000 and a dream to build the world’s greatest furniture store, Mack started Gallery Furniture under tents on the side of the freeway, over 30 years ago. To Mack, life is about lessons to be learned and opportunities to be seized. With his life’s motto"Grateful for everything, Entitled to nothing"directing his life, Mack has seen his dream grow and become a multi-million dollar enterprise, employing over 400 great American workers and helping to create countless others through his commitment to selling Made in America furniture.
Influencing American Industry
Gallery Furniture is also responsible for growing America’s furniture manufacturing industry. Mack has long felt that an emphasis on high-quality, solid wood furniture was missing from the furniture industry. Too much furniture sold in America today is made overseas, using pressed, composite materials, full of dangerous chemicals, and built using cheap construction techniques that produce furniture that won’t last more than a few years, at most, while leaching dangerous chemicals into the soil and groundwater when it ends up in landfills.
TODAY’s best furniture comes from American craftsman who use solid hardwoods and traditional, time-honored craftsmanship, producing beautiful furniture that can be handed down for generations to come and where value is measured in quality, not quantity. Mack is the country’s strongest proponent of Made in America furniture. As Mack puts it,"by selling Made in America furniture, we’re selling the best furniture made and creating good jobs for Americans."It’s a win-win situation.
"It’s only a start,"says Mack,"but we’re in this for the long haul. After 30-plus years selling furniture, we know our customers want long-lasting furniture at a fair price. And they prefer American-made quality."
While Mack’s promotions are well-known, his philanthropy is legendary."We believe in ‘Capitalism with a Cause,’"explains Mack, when asked why he gives so much to the community, schools, universities and more."Why work so hard if you can’t do something positive with what you earn?"
In fact, his philanthropy is as contagious as his passion for furniture. His work on special projects helped to build the first Mobile Stroke Unit in the USA, for patients in Houston, as well as raise millions for the Bush-Clinton Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund. When there’s a great charitable need, Mack and Gallery Furniture are usually the first to respond, if not spearhead the effort.
For years now, Gallery Furniture has been at the top of the industry in terms of size and earnings per square foot. As the largest independent furniture retailer in Texas — and bigger than most in other states — Mattress Mack knows continual innovation is needed to remain on top. TODAY, Gallery Furniture is enjoying tremendous growth with online marketing and sales, while employing cutting-edge technology on the sales floor, so sales consultants can provide a more personalized experience for customers, demonstrating value and expertise.
Due to overwhelming customer demand for a Gallery Furniture location to serve the massive growth of West Houston bedroom communities, Mack created a new store that sets a new standard for what a furniture store can and should be. The new store on Grand Parkway in Richmond is almost 50% larger than the North Freeway location and has become an anchor within that community, around which a shopping mecca is being built. Gallery Furniture Grand Parkway goes beyond expectations and provides a true community-centered destination, offering an experience that demonstrates why Gallery Furniture is different.
A Respected Houstonian & Great American
Anyone who’s ever worked with Mack knows that he builds his business and performs his acts of charity, not for recognition, but to benefit the community at large. Mack has a huge heart and is focused on helping Houston become the greatest city in America. Mack is one of Houston’s most recognized citizens and has touched the lives of countless Houstonians in a positive way.
Come To Gallery Furniture And Experience For Yourself Why Gallery Furniture Is"The World’s Greatest Furniture Store!"Meet"Mattress Mack"And Get A Picture With Him!
‘Mattress Mack’ Counts Losses After Astros Loses to Nationals in World Series
- Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale hit the headlines again after placing over $11.6 million in bets on the Astros to win the Word Series
- Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale owns Gallery Furniture in Houston.
- The Astros lost 6-2 in Game 7 to The Washington Nationals
Mattress Mack’s wallet suffered a serious dent after the Astros lost in the final game of the World Series. Mclngvale had placed a series of bets in the border of $13 million on the Astros to win.
Mattress Mack Loses Over $13 Million After Astros Loses to Nationals in Game 7
The World Series Game 7 was a big one for Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale, 68, who owns Gallery Furniture in Houston. According to estimates, Mattress Mack would have taken home a clean $19 million in winnings if the Astros had their hands on the trophy at the final whistle.
However, Jim Mclngvale lost north of $13 million after placing multiple massive bets on the team. It all started when Mclngvale put out a promotion to refund all customers who purchased mattresses worth $3,000 or more should the Astros emerge winners.
It’s not the first time that the high-roller has made such a move. In 2017, Mattress Mack paid over $13 million in refunds after the Astros won the World Series for the first time after they beat Los Angeles Dodgers. This time around, estimates put the total liability at about upward of $20 million.
Mattress Mack’s month-long betting extravaganza has come to an end https://t.co/7t13WTL3GN
Mattress Mack enlisted the counsel of renown gamblers hailing from Las Vegas to help him out. Frank Betti and Anthony Curtis had two tasks. To find bookmakers in New Jersey and Las Vegas willing to accept massive bets and at the best price. Mclngvale anticipated a $20 million return on a $10 million stake that would help him fund the refunds.
Mattress Mack’s Betting Streak
October 1, saw him place a jaw-dropping $3.5 million on the Astros. This bet went down as one of the largest ever accepted by a bookmaker in the U.S. DraftKings was the bookmaker in question housed at the Scarlet Peral casino in Mississippi and the return stood at $7.7 million (net) at +220 odds. According to Matt Kalish, chief revenue officer at DraftKings, if the Astros won, it would have been the largest individual payout ever.
That wasn’t the only bet Mattress Mack placed. He was in New Jersey at FanDuel Sportsbook in The Meadowlands to place another bet worth $1.5 million at +220 odds, making it the highest wager ever placed in the state. An Astros win would have seen him pocket $3.3 million.
Other bets include $200,000 on the Astros to win at +250 odds at South Point in Las Vegas. Reports also said that he flew to Mississippi to bet $675,000 on Astros. Other unconfirmed reports say that Mattress Mack placed bets with other bookmakers including Circa Sports, MGM, Caesars, and Treasure Island.
In total, it’s estimated that Mattress Mack placed over $11.6 million both on futures wagers tipping the Astros and other individual World Series games. The most interesting part is that Mclngvale didn’t know how much was in play.
Nonetheless, speaking to ESPN before game night, Mattress Mack said he didn’t have any financial sweat going into the game. He added that he placed the bets with heart and not his wallet, terming it“more conservative”and that he would do it again without hesitation.
The Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 6-2 in Game 7 to take home their first World Series title.
Simon is a freelance writer who specialises in gambling news and has been an author in the poker/casino scene for 10+ years. He brings valuable knowledge to the team and a different perspective, especially as a casual casino player.
‘Mattress Mack’ plans to bet $2M on Houston Astros in Game 7
After Mattress Mack flew to Las Vegas on a private jet Monday to place $1.234 million in wagers on the Astros in Game 6, he went out for a $7.99 steak dinner at Ellis Island.
After “Mattress Mack” arrived in Las Vegas on a private jet Monday to place more than $1 million in wagers on the Astros to win Game 6 of the World Series, he went out for a $7.99 steak dinner at Ellis Island.
“It was great,” Houston furniture store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale said. “It tastes like the same thing you get for $100 at a fancy steakhouse.”
McIngvale picked up the $40 dinner check for himself, his two pilots and betting adviser Anthony Curtis (LasVegasAdvisor.com). He dropped $1.234 million ($860,000 at William Hill and $354,000 at Circa Sports) on the Astros, who lost 7-2 to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday to set up Game 7 on Wednesday night in Houston.
McIngvale recounted his $7.99 steak dinner Wednesday morning while en route to the DraftKings sportsbook at the Scarlet Pearl Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he placed a $675,000 wager to win $500,000 (-135) on the Astros to win Game 7.
Curtis said the plan was for McIngvale to bet a total of $2 million on Houston to win Game 7. That would give him roughly $12 million in wagers to win $22 million on the Astros to win the World Series.
McIngvale, 68, placed eight figures in bets on Houston to hedge a potential $20 million loss on a season-long promotion at his Gallery Furniture stores that will refund any mattress-set purchase of at least $3,000 if the Astros win the World Series.
“Financially, if we get down $2 million to win about $1.5 million (Wednesday), he’ll pretty much be where he needs to be on the numbers,” Curtis said. “If the Astros win, we think Mack will be sufficiently hedged for his position and he’ll be happy as a clam because he just bleeds that team.
“If the Nationals pull it off, he’s absolved of his furniture obligation on the rebate.”
The road team has won the first six games of the series, and Washington has three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer opposing Zack Greinke, who has one Cy Young Award, in Game 7.
“I feel good. I like Greinke. He’s a good pitcher, and the Astros are a great team,” McIngvale said. “The way I look at is it’s time for the home team to win a game.”
McIngvale, who has opened his stores multiple times as a shelter for flood and hurricane victims, treated 10 Houston nuns and 15 Gold Star moms and their families to Game 6. He’s taking 30 members of the Sunshine Kids — a nonprofit dedicated to children with cancer — to Game 7.
“That’s who I am,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate all my life, and it’s very nice to have them there. Sunshine Kids is (Astros great) Craig Biggio’s favorite charity. I’m trying to get a hold of him to talk to them.”
Whether the Astros win or lose, McIngvale has said he’ll be a winner regardless thanks to all the free publicity he’s received during Houston’s playoff run.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “I like going to the stadium and seeing all the customers and people. The highlight for me has been intermingling with the customers.”