Jim McIngvale, or “Mattress Mack” as he’s often called, is famous for doing more than providing same-day furniture delivery service in the Houston area—he’s also known for his extraordinary commitment to community service and philanthropy. He feeds the hungry, helps victims of natural disaster, and gives away furniture to those in need. The Gallery Furniture owner is also a key supporter of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays.

On March 29, his investment in retailing education at Texas A&M was permanently recognized with the dedication of the Gallery Furniture Retail Education Lobby in the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS).

Gallery Furniture owner and founder Jim McIngvale has been a supporter of the Center for Retailing Studies for over 15 years.
Gallery Furniture owner and founder Jim McIngvale has been a supporter of the Center for Retailing Studies for over 15 years. (view more photos)

“He is truly one of the most talented, innovative and successful merchandisers on the planet, bar none,” Center Director Cheryl Holland Bridges said when introducing him before the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new lobby. “Mack truly loves Aggies, and we love him.”

Mays Dean Jerry Strawser said any recognition the college can give McIngvale will fall short of what he deserves. “This guy simply makes the city of Houston and the state of Texas a better place,” he said.

Gallery Furniture has been involved with CRS for more than 15 years, but McIngvale’s involvement goes beyond financial gifts. He guest lectures in classes, has presented twice at the center’s Retailing Summit and develops mentoring relationships with students interested in retail.

Continuing to inspire Mays students to discover the world of retailing, McIngvale committed to an endowment of $250,000 at Mays, which was used to create and support the Gallery Furniture Retail Education Lobby. The facility features a comfortable area for students to study, hold group meetings and lounge. A wall-mounted TV streams current retailing and business news.

McIngvale said he supports Texas A&M because it reinforces the timeless values of good manners and hard work. “Texas A&M gives such an opportunity to people that they’ll be able to change the world,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be a huge supporter of Texas A&M.

McIngvale said his father taught him to generous. “We have a responsibility to make a difference — we all do,” he said. “Texas A&M does that.”

Bridges says McIngvale’s gift is central to their mission of being a bridge between the academic and professional world, as it will put students in contact with the latest information from the marketplace in a dynamic learning atmosphere. Information displayed on the TV includes presentations from retailing conferences, information about retail companies and career paths, profiles of student achievements in retailing, and video interviews with retailing CEOs. The multimedia materials encourage students to consider careers in retail, says Bridges.

Leonard Berry, Distinguished Professor of Marketing and founding director of the CRS, said he admires no one as much as he does McIngvale, both for his innovative approach and for his openness to customer feedback. Berry said he is amazed at McIngvale’s energy and enthusiasm, and his fearless approach to marketing. Most of all, Berry said, McIngvale conducts business in such a way that Gallery Furniture epitomizes social profit.

“We learn all about financial profit — how to get it, how to keep it, how to earn more, but I believe the social profit Gallery Furniture creates for Houston is one of the key contributors to the company’s financial success,” Berry said. Then, Berry turned to McIngvale and added, “I’m proud of you for your business success, but even more so for your generosity as a business leader.”