Thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines and their hit HGTV show, Fixer Upper, Waco has become a major shopping destination.
So many of the devoted fans of their television show were coming to their small Magnolia Market, they decided to enlarge — by what seems a hundredfold.
They bought an industrial site in downtown Waco with silos and an old cotton warehouse and opened Magnolia Market at the Silos last October. The devoted began flocking there the moment the ribbon was cut. Often the crowds are so thick — estimates say 20,000 visitors per week — there can be a line just to enter the store.
It’s just one facet of the expanding Magnolia empire, which now consists of the popular television show, Magnolia Market at the Silos with its garden center and bakery, a real-estate business, Chip’s custom homes, a furniture line by Joanna, and a guesthouse in nearby McGregor.
In May, the Gaineses purchased Waco’s famous Elite Cafe, which had a 97-year run on Waco’s traffic circle. While they will acknowledge buying the property, they are not announcing their intentions; they are saving that for 2017, they say.
And, launching in October, will be their own lifestyle-focused magazine. The quarterly publication, which will sell for $7.99, will include features on food, family, decorating and other “content with heart,” Chip said in the official news release announcing the magazine.
They have managed all of this even though their national exposure with Fixer Upper is only in its third season.
The Gaineses’ business plan for world domination is breathtaking in its scope and speed; not even Martha Stewart moved this quickly.
A recent trip to Waco to check out the new attractions was in order.
Can’t miss ’em
While much is made of the silos, the two empty behemoths are merely directional landmarks that can’t be missed. (If you are relying on GPS, the address is 601 Webster Ave., about two minutes off Interstate 35, on the other side of the highway from Baylor University.)
With the silos in sight, you can try and get close, hoping for a good parking place ($10 cash gets you close). Good luck; there are waves of cars and pedestrians all moving in that direction.
The people seem so intent and their stares so fixed, it could be mistaken for a zombie apocalypse. “Surely, they can’t all be Magnolia shoppers,” you think, but you’d be wrong. They are.
These people have come from all over the United States to shop at Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco. Waco!
I arrived midafternoon on a Saturday, a high-water point for arrivals. The place was packed with men, women and children, trudging in line up the front steps, through the front door and then winding through the store. It felt like Six Flags.
The store is a giant gift shop of Magnolia-logoed merchandise and home decor like the pieces used on the show. At the time of my visit, Joanna’s new furniture line hadn’t been delivered, so most things were home goods and accessories that cost under $50.
But almost all of it — T-shirts, tea towels, candles, caps and tableware — was branded with the Magnolia seal. Riffs on recognizable Fixer Upper themes are popular T-shirt purchases — “Demoday,” “ShipLap” and “ChipLap.”
The large store specializes in Joanna’s favorite color palette of shades of gray. As one shopper noted, “The stuff is like Crate & Barrel, only there it comes in colors.”
There are many galvanized tin containers, clear glass vases, white glass vases, cups, clock faces, candles — and those words. Words are one of Joanna’s favorite decorating devices. She eschews photographs and paintings in favor of inspirational words scribbled or rendered in laser-cut metal signs on walls and flat surfaces.
Recognizing not everyone is enchanted by a shopping scrum, the Gaineses have provided a block-sized play yard next to the market for lawn games (equipment provided) and picnics. Food, drinks, ice cream and coffee are available from numerous food trucks that circle the block.
Entire families are making a day of it on the lawn. And for folks who are too exhausted to make it back to their vehicles, there are plenty of benches in the shade of the two silos.
A garden shop and a display garden are on one corner of the property, and opposite is the bakery.
The Bakery at the Silos opened in late June, and it continues the popular themes found in the store — Shiplap cupcakes, Magnolia cookies, Cup O’ Jo cupcakes and the Prize Pig, a breakfast biscuit with bacon and cheddar cheese. Cupcakes are $3.50, and this seems to provoke some outrage until compared with the more urban Sprinkles cupcakes, at $3.75 each.
Baked goods can be enjoyed on an outdoor patio, which, mercifully, has water misters overhead.
A drive out of town
I marvel at the couple’s ingenuity and success and double down on that when I drive 20 minutes out of town to McGregor to check out the guesthouse.
One of the Fixer Upper projects featured earlier this year, the house sleeps eight people and can be booked for $695. Well, it could be booked, except it’s reserved through the end of the year and has been since the first week reservations were available online.
It is charming, but sits on a downtown lot surrounded by a whole lot of nothing of interest. You’re not allowed beyond the gate if you’re not a guest, so take your photos and move on.
McGregor has some cute antiques shops and a cupcake bakery, and The Coffee Shop Cafe is worth a stop for breakfast. (It was made famous when former President George W. Bush visited years ago, as his ranch is nearby, in Crawford.)
New furniture line
The furniture Joanna Gaines designed for Standard Furniture debuted at the March High Point furniture market and is making its way into stores.
Given only 100 days from design to production, Joanna managed to come up with eight complete and complementary lines of furniture, under the banners Industrial, Primitive, French Inspired, Modern, Traditional, Boho, Magnolia Kids and Farmhouse, with some sidelines of accessories. (You can see the various collections at www.magnoliahomefurniture.com.)
The furniture looks familiar; it all seems to come from Joanna’s design proclivities.
There is almost a Shaker sensibility — nothing too heavy, fancy or overwrought. Materials are honest and not painted or gilded to mask their lineage.
Most pieces look as if they came from a library, schoolhouse or hardware store. The silhouettes are time-tested, there is nothing too extreme or adventurous.
Even the French-inspired side chairs with velvet upholstery in bold colors have a neo-ancestral look, as if they have been in the family for decades and only recently reupholstered.
Retailers of the Magnolia Home line are listed on the website. The largest collection near Fort Worth is at Nebraska Furniture Mart in The Colony, north of Dallas. Texas Pearls & Co. in Waxahachie and Home Sweet Home in Granbury are also listed as retailers.
The Gaineses have legions of fans, and they all seem to want a bit of the Fixer Upper magic. The couple are providing that — from semi-pricey cupcakes to leather, tufted-back sofas.
Yes, in Waco.
If you go
Magnolia Market at the Silos
- 601 Webster St., Waco
- 254-235-6111, https://magnoliamarket.com/silos
- The market is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (grounds stay open until 7 p.m.) Monday through Saturday. Bakery opens at 7:30 a.m. Both are closed Sunday.
Second annual Silobration
- Oct. 6-8
- The free, three-day weekend event will celebrate Magnolia’s first year at the Silos. The festival will feature handmade crafts and artisan goods, as well as food trucks, baked goods, lawn games and evening concerts.
- Updates and more information at https://magnoliamarket.com/silobration.