Gallery Furniture plans multiservice centers inside store locations

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- When you think furniture store, you may not picture education programs and daycare, but soon that's what you'll see at Gallery Furniture.

Around Labor Day, the North Freeway and Richmond locations will open multiservice centers.

"We all have responsibilities for the well being of our community, and I've got to live that every day," Jim Mcingvale said.

Multiservice centers are a need growing in demand. The city of Houston has 11.

The number of people seeking services has substantially grown in just a few years, going from 20,000 to more than 30,000.

Places where neighbors can get clothes, medical treatment and even grow their own food.

"They're able to have one building where they're able to come in and get educated on the different services that are available across town," said Porfirio Villarreal, public information officer of the Houston Health Department.

Putting one of these in a retail location is new.

University of Houston marketing professor Betsy Gelb said not everyone could add this to their store and come across at genuinely wanting to help.

"But he can do that because he's had a track record of all sorts of pro civic activities in this community," Gelb said.

She adds that the move is smart business, because adding a multiservice will increase foot traffic.

It's a point McIngvale, also known as "Mattress Mack," doesn't deny.

"You've got to give to receive," McIngvale said. "That's one thing I've learned in my life is by doing good, quite often you do well. A lot of people come here and say they bought furniture because of what we did during Hurricane Harvey. We didn't do it for that reason, but the long-term benefit."

Now, he hopes these centers will create a lasting benefit long after he steps aside.

"We're going to start off and see what works and what doesn't, and hopefully by this time next year we'll have a lot of people in both locations everyday making their lives better," said McIngvale, who continues to offer more than just furniture.

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