“Gallery Furniture…hello, can I help you?”
As you enter, you can’t help but notice Jim McIngvale, the owner of the store he made famous answering the phone. The huge fire on May 21st completely destroyed the massive warehouse that contained upwards of 30-million dollars of inventory. McIngvale said there was no question he would reopen this past weekend.
“Saturday was huge, (it was) probably the busiest day in the history of the store, and the customers were great. They were very responsive. They all said I’m glad you’re back and it was just very heart warming to see the cars here. The line down the feeder road was about 200-cars, so it was very inspiring Saturday, as the community poured out to support us.”
Open bird exhibits and waterfalls are mixed with the furniture displays inside the store, which is about 40-percent opened. The remainder should be opened on Labor Day, and the warehouse by Thanksgiving. McIngvale says he realizes the economic impact the store has for the area.
“We had a big party for the firemen on Friday, that saved the store, and one thing I was trying to impress with them was the fact that their heroic efforts out here not only saved the physical property that we’re on, but it saved the jobs of 400-Houstonians. That’s huge, it’s a huge economic impact that Gallery Furniture has not only on our customers and ourselves, but our vendors, radio and TV stations, all these people that bring us furniture, the light company, etc. So it’s great thing to be reopened, a great thing to be back in business, and a great thing to be able to take care of customers everyday.”
In the parking lot customers will notice a new sculpture made of steel beams from the burned warehouse. Mac says it honors the firefighters who worked tirelessly to salvage his livelihood. Franceska Perot is with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. She says agents collected evidence before the gutted warehouse was cleared.
“Yes, we did investigate the scene as thoroughly as possible and then, we released the scene back to Mr. McIngvate.”
PH: “There was evidence that the bureau cited as reason for them to make its claim?”
Perot: “Yes. All the investigating parties involved did agree that it was a set fire. Until we have a suspect in custody, we’re really not gonna be able to discuss this investigation.”
McIngvale says he’s letting ATF do its job in the case, but in the style viewers and listeners know him by…he says he is a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
“We knew that from the moment the fire started, that the good Lord had a plan and then it’s all gonna work out.”
PH: “So, this is gonna be new and improved?”
McIngvale: “New and improved, better Gallery Furniture. Come out and visit us, 6006 North Freeway. Same people, same great service. Only one thing’s different. We’re gonna save you even more money today!”
Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.