What is Texas’ hottest and hippest destination right now? It’s a couple of upcycled grain silos a mile off Interstate 35 in Waco called Magnolia Market and it’s a home decorators dream. It’s the brainwave of Chip and Joanna Gaines, the HGTV celebs from Fixer Upper.
I’ve personally enjoyed the show from my home in San Antonio, and followed the hoopla surrounding the opening of the Magnolia Market three hours north of my home. But it wasn’t until I had an opportunity to stop by on a recent trip up the interstate that I got to see firsthand why all my Facebook friends were drooling about this place.
I expected to encounter a cute shop with the accessories that Gaines is known to showcase in her “reveal” segments. If you watch the show, you’re familiar with the appearance of vintage-looking signs, handmade soaps, rustic textiles and ginormous primitive wall clocks –some of her favorites.
The Fixer Upper couple has taken their design sensibility—and sensation – and applied it to a shopping complex. The retail store, Magnolia Market, appears modest until you walk inside and realize that it’s barn-sized. Adjacent to it is Silo Bakery, a small picturesque storefront with outside seating for cupcakes and coffee. The up-cycled grain silos themselves have shade, signage and seating. Directly outside the silos is a Texas-sized field complete with soccer balls for kicking and swings for swinging. Behind the silos is a garden shop and seed store. Lining the back perimeter are a handful of food trucks. Everything is painted in an elegant black and white palette and squeaky clean. Staff are strategically placed throughout to answer questions and direct visitors.
I consider myself a seasoned traveler, but I’ve not seen shopping so elevated into the realm of a full day experience as it has at Magnolia Market. It’s more akin to a theme park than a home decorating store. And that’s what everyone is talking about. How a couple from Waco went from modest construction/design team to the number one show on the HGTV Network. In the last two weeks, they’ve been the cover story in Texas Monthly and featured on the Texas Standard, but they’ve been featured in numerous design magazines the past year.
Five years from now, we’ll all be looking back at the phenomenon of what’s going on in Waco Texas and trying to figure out how to replicate it. If you’re wondering how to create and market a destination, just call it anything with the word “magnolia” in it and sit back and watch the tourists flock to it (35,000 visitors per week is a widely reported figure).
But the bottom line, everyone in Texas is cheering them on. We want them to succeed.
So let’s examine this phenomenon like we would any busy theme park. It’s best to prepare for your visit to Magnolia Market. Here is a checklist based on my recent trip and some ideas I’ve gathered from recent visitors.
5 Pro Tips to Plan Your Trip to Magnolia Market
Be Prepared to Stand in Line…or NOT!
Depending on time of day and day of the week, there will be lines. Lines for “looking” at the beautiful home accessories on display and lines for purchasing them. There will be lines for cupcakes and lines for restrooms and lines for the food trucks. But Dawn Monroe, of the Frugal Mom, had a completely different experience.
“About the crowds – we went on an overcast Saturday, at 2 p.m. It had just rained, so apparently the crowd left and we got really lucky.”
Have a Parking Plan
Sure there’s parking on the street, but at peak times, every space is taken. A local church next door offers parking for $10. There’s a trolley running on weekends to and from free parking lots that are farther away, but the parking is free and so is the trolley. Best idea: drive right up to the block, assess the situation and decide if you want to pay $10 for convenience or use one of the more remote free lots.
Take Your Time
The Magnolia Market experience is not to be rushed.
“There are adorable touches everywhere,” says my friend Gloria Nwelue, the former San Antonio community manager for Yelp. “Those cute little picnic tables with black and white striped awnings and that super cool giant double porch swing? Swoon. Everything was even cuter than I expected, if that’s possible.”
“The outside entertainment area is lovely and I enjoyed sitting out there to have lunch,” says Janice Langlinas of Austin, a former tourism professional.
Lots of Helpers!
It’s quite obvious that Magnolia Enterprises is employing a LOT of people in Waco, which is great for the area. They were very well staffed on the day that I visited, sporting cute little aprons and holding maps of the layout to help visitors navigate.
“Extremely helpful staff spent about 20 minutes helping me purchase one of their large antique olive buckets they were using for display, said my friend Melissa Welch-Lamoreaux. “And, the decorating ideas I took away from the visit–priceless.”
Expect to Pay for Your Experience
The Magnolia Market experience is not without its price. Some of the visitors I queried had expected all the items to be artisan made. And some are, but the bulk of items for sale are not quirky, one-off finds, but are just as likely to be high end, imported goods.
“I had to wait in line just to view certain items in the market, not to mention the insane line to actually check out,” said Nwelue. “Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything because I’m not a fan of shouldering my way through the masses.”
Last Word on Planning Your Visit
Visit the website for hours and directions – the area is closed on Sunday!! https://magnoliamarket.com/silos/
Check out some of Waco’s other attractions here: http://wacoheartoftexas.com/