I spent some time in Waco as a kid and it was always a friendly place to live, but not particularly bustling when I lived there (at least not when you come from London.) So when I had a chance to tour the Magnolia Market at the Silos and see what all of the excitement was about, I could not believe the hustle and bustle of the crowds shopping, kids running around playing, the lines at the Silos Baking Co. and the general excitement of people of all ages who were making the pilgrimage to HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market and Gardens.
This was definitely not the downtown Waco I had known growing up; clearly this dynamic TV couple was responsible for the change.
I visited during a special day of activities the Gaineses and their partner KILZ paint planned for members of the press that, while not totally typical of a regular trip, gave me an eye-opening look behind the scenes of the stars’ massively popular Texas destination. The day started with an opportunity to take a look at Joanna’s newest product line, Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines Chalk Style Paint, watch Chip demonstrate KILZ primer (as well as his Southern charm) and then a brief chat.
I was glad that Joanna and Chip were just as warm and friendly as they come across in their Fixer Upper show, and yes, that chemistry is real, but what struck me was Joanna’s attention to detail. While Chip was wowing our group with paint strokes and his precision in spray painting chairs, Joanna was behind the scenes personally delivering copies of the new Magnolia Journal magazine to our seats with hand written notes that read, “So nice to meet you!” Watching her in action, both of them for that matter, seemed genuine and heartfelt, like they truly felt blessed to be in their situation.
The afternoon was spent touring the Magnolia grounds with a sneak peak of the offices above the store, not otherwise open to the public. The cheerful space (a bit cramped as they can’t keep up with how quickly the company is growing) has a vintage Pac Man video game for employees courtesy of Chip, inspiration boards on the walls, a large decorative iron sculpture given to Chip and Joanna by their favorite metalworker, Jimmy Don, and a magnolia key presented to them by the city of Waco.
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The fun part was getting to snoop around Chip’s office. A big-screen TV dominates one wall and is for viewing events like the Super Bowl — our guide confirmed there really are no TVs allowed in the Gaineses’ home. There are rustic chandeliers picked out by Joanna, and a multitude of their magazine covers framed on the walls as well as various sports memorabilia, including items from Baylor University, Chip and Joanna’s Alma Mater. A signed photo of the couple with Laura and George W. Bush is proudly displayed, as well as a favorite quote of Chip’s by comedian Tommy Smothers: “When you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s hard to know when you’re finished.”
The grounds of Magnolia Market at the Silos were buzzing with visitors even though it was a weekday and the atmosphere certainly encourages families to stay and spend a few hours. There are shady spots for the older set to hide from the hot Texas sun, picnic tables with dark green and white striped awnings designed by Joanna, and bean bag chairs for families to sprawl on.
Joanna brought in swings and games like corn hole with the goal of making people want to spend the day and bring their families to unplug and “be inspired.” Food trucks offer up a variety of local fare, at least for now, until the restaurant on site can be completed later this year.
I did not know what to expect coming in, but Chip and Joanna successfully turned an old rustic abandoned property with two silos on it into a fresh and cheerful place that is genuinely charming. As long as the crowds aren’t too overwhelming, it’s definitely one where you would want to stop, linger and unwind for a while.