HOUSTON - Jim McIngvale has been called many things: Mattress Mack, more recently Gangster Mack, but most would call him kind, considerate, and giving. However, one Houstonian calls Mattress Mack a lifesaver.
Why? Well, we often see families full of smiles after Mattress Mack gives them free furniture for their home, but one Houston man says at 10-years-old that gift not only changed but saved his life.
Of all the Gallery Furniture customers what’s so special about Carlos Hardy? Hardy was just 10 when Mattress Mack gifted his family furniture.
"It was huge for me at the time because my family we were struggling," Hardy explains. The struggle did not go away, but Hardy became determined to one day go to Mack’s store as a paying customer. "Oh, I knew instantly as a kid. I knew I had to come back and return the favor to him."
Growing up in an environment of crime, Hardy says if he strayed off course he would remind himself of the Gallery Furniture shopping trip he promised to take. "It just meant so much to me to see something positive and great like that. It just gave me light," he says, but he did seem to be on the wrong path in his late teens.
"I actually did not graduate high school, but I did go and get a GED, went on and joined the military, and now I’m a federal IRS employee," he smiles.
After 12 years in the Army, Hardy now works for the government, and more than 20 years after receiving Mattress Mack’s generous gift he bought an $8,000 living room set from the man who changed his life.
"Well that’s very kind. One of the nicest things that’s ever been said to me, so I appreciate him saying that but most of all I appreciate him turning into such a great citizen and just a real asset to our community. You know, it’s very gratifying. We’ve been part of the community now for 42 years, and it’s just really what it’s all about to see young men like him grow up and get a great job," says Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale who met with Hardy on his shopping trip to Gallery Furniture.
Hardy tells Mack, "As a kid, you came and furnished my whole home and I wanted to come and say thank you," and the two even talked a bit of baseball.
"I understand you’re a huge Astros fan," Mack said to Hardy, and then he was reminded of another type of "sharing" he did with a Phillies fan. "I used some Philadelphia words up there, which I’m not proud of," says Mack, but he is laughing about the whole Gangster Mack meme.
"One of these days when I grow up I’m going to look like this," Mack laughs while holding up a rock with Gangster Mack painted on it. No matter how some choose to paint Mack, the picture at least one paying customer holds in his heart will forever be of a man who saved his life.
"I’m going to always buy from Mattress Mack. It’s a debt that I’ll never be able to pay back," Hardy says.
A heartwarming story that started with Mattress Mack’s intention to simply furnish the Hardy family's home, and it turned into a lifesaving gift that went far beyond furniture.