Cris started working with Houston Furniture Bank nearly a year ago. In that short amount of time, he has become one of our most-loved employees. He is known for his hard work, positive attitude, and loving demeanor. Our team starts the day bright and early at 7 am with an employee meeting. During these meetings, employees are encouraged to share a story from the day before. Cris always begins his stories with “Good morning guys, I love you.” It’s clear to all that he doesn’t just say it to be nice, he really does love his coworkers, he loves working at Houston Furniture Bank, and he loves furniture. To better understand how one man could have so much love at 7 am, I spoke with Chris about his experience working at Houston Furniture Bank, how he came to love furniture and his hopes for the future.
Cris grew up with a single mother. He told me that they didn’t have a lot of money but they always had a lot of love. Cris credits his giving nature to his lifestyle growing up. When he was in high school, his mother enrolled him in a private Catholic school. Covering the cost of this high-quality education proved to be challenging for Cris’s family. Ultimately, he was able to graduate because other families at the school took it upon themselves to help. Because of the generosity he experienced as a teenager, Cris knew he wanted to help people as an adult. At his high school graduation, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale spoke about the importance of furniture and helping families in need. This speech made a big impact on Cris and piqued his interest in the furniture industry. “Seeing that ‘Mattress Mack’ was helping people through furniture made me want to help people with furniture too. It made me see the possibilities of furniture assistance.”
In 2014, Cris began his career in furniture. He started small, selling a few pieces on the side of the road. When he sold one piece, he would have enough money to buy a new one that he would then flip and sell. Slowly but surely, Cris began to build a list of contacts. Little by little, he saved enough money to open his own furniture store, which he aptly named, “I Love Furniture.” During this time, he also helped out at a local store that sold handmade furniture pieces. Cris cleaned the store in exchange for lessons in carpentry. Soon, he learned how to build dressers, chests, and bed frames which he was able to sell at “I Love Furniture.” For three years, he was able to maintain and operate his own business. But for Cris, owning his own furniture store was not as fulfilling as he had hoped. Going into the furniture business, his goal had always been to help his community by giving his customers good deals on quality furniture. As any small business owner can tell you, the challenge was in delivering good deals and having enough money left over to support his business and family.
Cris is married and has three beautiful daughters. He works hard to support and provide for his loved ones. Having a steady source of income was important, but so was delivering quality furniture to working-class families. In 2018, Cris made the difficult decision to close “I Love Furniture.” Even so, he was determined to continue connecting people with quality furniture at affordable prices. Through all of his ups and downs, two things have stayed constant: Cris’s passion for furniture and his love of helping his customers. Whether selling furniture on the side of the road, in his store, or on his Facebook page, his loyal base of customers has followed his passion.
In late 2019, Cris was hired on at the Furniture Outlet at Houston Furniture Bank. In his new role as Outlet Manager, he loves knowing that his work supports the mission of “Making Empty Houses Homes.” Indeed, Houston Furniture Bank provides furniture assistance to over 100 families every month, thanks to sales made in the Furniture Outlet. “When someone buys furniture in the outlet, they become part of the Houston Furniture Bank community and family,” he told me. “By purchasing furniture, the customers become our partners and help us serve more families.” Since the fall of 2019, Cris has become a hugely popular salesman, coworker, and friend. He is all heart and dedicates 100 percent of himself to his job every day. Even on weekends, Cris is known to promote and sell furniture from the Furniture Outlet on his Facebook page. Through his hard work and expansive network of customers, Cris has helped make thousands of dollars in sales, with 100 percent of proceeds going to help families in need. Even so, Cris doesn’t measure his success in dollar amounts but in the hundreds of families that he has helped connect with great deals. With every sale, Cris thinks of his own mother and the help they received growing up. By working at Houston Furniture Bank, Cris feels that he is able to pay back the generosity he received many times over.
Cris’s love of furniture remains strong and he has big plans to grow with Houston Furniture Bank. This fall, as we open up a second location in the Woodlands, Cris has opted to help set up the new space. Selfishly, everyone at the 8220 Mosley location is begging him to stay and trying to imagine the Furniture Outlet without him. We know that he will bring the same vocation and dedication to Houston Furniture Bank North and we look forward to watching him continue to thrive. To conclude my conversation with Cris, I asked him about the future. “In five years,” he said, “I see myself opening a third or fourth Houston Furniture Bank location. I want to keep expanding so we can help as many families as possible.” With people like Cris, who truly love furniture, working at Houston Furniture Bank, our future is looking very bright indeed. You can visit Cris at Houston Furniture Bank North, opening soon on October 16th at 295 Sawdust Rd. in the Woodlands!
Article written by Liliana Bauerlein, Furniture Assistance Coordinator