From a Star Wars-themed movie room with gyrating chairs that add motion to your movie-viewing experience to diaper-wearing monkeys, Jim McIngvale and his Gallery Furniture mini-chain know how to get your attention.
McIngvale, known by everyone as "Mattress Mack," began his journey to becoming a household name in 1983 through a series of high-energy TV ads for his furniture store in which he coined the catchphrase, "Gallery Furniture saves you money!"
The 64-year-old businessman is now making his mark on Fort Bend County with the launch of Gallery Furniture Grand Parkway. CultureMap got a tour of the newly-open complex, the company’s third and largest Houston location, and it's a site to see at a whopping 165,000 square feet.
It’s a zoo in there, and we don’t mean the crowd
Not your average furniture outlet, McIngvale and his wife, Linda, worked closely with architects on the megastore’s design, which includes a 20,000 square-foot atrium complete with a trio of capuchin monkeys affectionately named Katie, Houston and Sugar, several exotic birds and a mammoth above-ground koi pond.
The enclosed, air-conditioned space also boasts a glass ceiling, grand and ever-changing floral pieces, and the largest indoor living wall in Texas at 48-feet high and 42-feet long, showcasing over 12,000 plants.
As though that’s not enough to pique your interest, the building also features a giant-sized Texas flag jumping mattress for the kids and a 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium with a variety of fish including (cue the Jaws music) a zebra shark, and, coming soon, a pair of blacktip sharks.
Work up an appetite
Grab a bite (and a drink) at Brick & Mortar Kitchen, the store’s full-service restaurant, bar and bakeshop run by McIngvale's daughter, Laura McIngvale-Brown, and her husband, Phillip Brown, who also own Austin’s Vince Young Steakhouse.
No grab-and-go joint, the menu of refined comfort southern fare at the sit-down eatery includes fried quail (with buttermilk grits, braised greens and pickled peppers) and a 46-ounce, dry-aged tomahawk steak (with smoked potatoes, roasted mushrooms and grilled kale).
Wash it all down with a beer (available on draft and by the bottle), cocktail (from classic to creative) or – for those with the means – an $850 glass of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.
Las Vegas style
The rest of the spacious store is devoted to furniture, with large showrooms on either side of the atrium, offering rows of vignettes to give customers an idea of how groupings of pieces might look in the home. With gleaming marble floors and ornate fixtures, this part of the store looks a bit like the lobby of a Las Vegas hotel.
And there's still time for a little gambling, too, as McInvagle's unusual offer to refund 100 percent of the purchase price of $7,000 or more of furniture if the price of West Texas Intermediate Crude tops $85 per barrel at the year of the year is still going on.
Gallery Furniture officials boast that the stores sell the most furniture and mattresses in the nation per square foot, including the store's own line, Mack-O-Pedic, as well as other name brands such as Stearns and Foster and Mayo.
Giving back to the community, McIngvale has donated an entire section of the Grand Parkway store to handcrafted, home decor products made by residents of The Brookwood Community, a non-profit residential facility and vocational program for adults with disabilities.
Open for business
McIngvale, along with his wife, Linda, started Gallery Furniture in 1981 with a budget of $5,000. Ever the consummate businessman, he addressed a room full of media at the store’s opening event this week proclaiming, “Gallery Furniture Grand Parkway is now officially open," and then only briefly paused before adding, "and if you buy today, we’ll still deliver it tonight.”