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What 'Mattress Mack' told Ellen DeGeneres about Houston's recovery from winter storm

Chron logo Chron 2/24/2021 Matt Young
Jim McIngvale reading a book: Jim Mclngvale, the owner of Gallery Furniture store which opened its door and transformed into a warming station after winter weather caused electricity blackouts, poses for a photo on February 18, 2021 in Houston. © Go Nakamura, Getty Images

Jim Mclngvale, the owner of Gallery Furniture store which opened its door and transformed into a warming station after winter weather caused electricity blackouts, poses for a photo on February 18, 2021 in Houston.

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale got some love on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Wednesday, as he updated a national audience on how Houston is faring after a winter storm left millions of Texas without power and water last week.

As he has done in past disasters, the Gallery Furniture store owner opened his store last week so residents could use it as a warming shelter and get a free meal. McIngvale told DeGeneres that about 1,000 people came inside his store Tuesday to get warm and have a meal and he estimated about 300 or 400 people stayed the night inside the store.

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“This is a big store,” McIngvale said during his four-minute interview conducted remotely. “We’ve got lots of couches and mattresses for people to sleep on. We were expecting a lot (of people), but we got even more than we expected.”

This is nothing new for Gallery Furniture, as McIngvale opened the doors to his business as the city struggled during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

“My parents taught me when I was a little child, that the essence of living is giving,” McIngvale told DeGeneres. “We’ve always had a saying here at Gallery Furniture that we have a responsibility for the well-being of the community, so if something bad happens, we want to be one of the first businesses to act because it’s our job to help the community, not just take money out of the community. We don’t want to necessarily make a lot of profit, we want to make a big difference in the community and make the community a better place, and when people are hurting, whether they’re going to drown during Hurricane Harvey or they’re going to freeze to death during this winter storm, it’s our responsibility to step up and take a leading position.”

After the interview, DeGeneres unveiled a $20,000 check from Shutterfly to Mattress Mack's Winter Storm Community Outreach, which is still helping to provide residents with food and water as the city recovers from the winter storm.

According to KHOU 11, which airs "The Ellen DeGeneres Show", H-E-B also donated $1 million to Feeding Texas, which is a statewide network of food banks to help try to end hunger in the state.

"I was a bit starstruck to be on the Ellen show to be honest with you," McIngvale said in an interview on KHOU's local newscast after the show aired. "I was quite nervous, but I made it through."

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