Because we couldn't possibly wait any longer, we just went on a road trip to visit Magnolia Market, ' brand-new store in Waco, Texas. Fans of HGTV's Fixer Upper know that the couple recently undertook their in acquiring a sprawling downtown Waco property that includes two huge grain silos and a 20,000-square-foot barn. More than a year in the making, the new complex in a two-day "#Silobration" on October 30th and 31st.
We visited on December10th and 12th to get a feel for the place on different days of the week as it settles in as Waco's newest landmark. Here's what we saw and what we thought:
1. It looks even more impressive in person.
Pictures can't quite do the new Magnolia Market justice, because it's so large—it covers two-and-a-half acres—so you really have to wander around quite a bit to take in the various parts of the property and appreciate all it has to offer.
2. It's not just a store.
, as it's officially called, replaces Joanna's now-closed smaller Magnolia Market, which was a pretty standard—if very tasteful—retail shop located elsewhere in Waco. The new Magnolia Market feels like something much more: a place to buy stuff, yes, but also a community center, an expression of Gaines family values and a sort-of shrine to their lifestyle.
As you walk onto the property from Waco's Webster Ave., you can head up a short set of stairs to your left and start shopping in the main building—or you can choose to bypass the building and just walk around outdoors.
Outside to your right, there's an irresistible photo opp: those iconic grain silos—which you can't actually enter, but which sure look impressive. During both of our visits, people lined up to pose in front of the silos; there was a shiny red vintage truck, with a Christmas tree tied to its roof, parked right where the silos are joined in the middle by a tin roof with the famous Magnolia sign—er, MAgNoLia sign—bolted to it.
Next to the silos: a large green field (with artificial turf) that kids and parents were tossing balls around on. Beyond that: an area with picnic tables and a half-dozen food trucks (more on those in a moment), a little garden (a partnership with World Hunger Relief—a pumpkin patch for now) and a shed with a sign that read NORTH POLE TOY CO. (which you couldn't actually enter, but which visitors happily took selfies in front of).
3. The vibe here is warm and welcoming.
You can choose to shop or not shop; either way, it feels like you're welcome to hang out. If we lived in Waco, we could see coming here regularly to meet up with friends and grab a quick bite.
4. Magnolia Market is Joanna's "show."
If Fixer Upper is The Joanna & Chip Show—or The Chip & Joanna Show, as the case may be—Magnolia Market is pretty much The Joanna Show now that it's opened. That's not to take anything away from the beautifully executed renovation—Chip and his team of contractors did a really impressive job of repurposing a decaying agricultural property—but the way Magnolia Market is set up is obviously a sign of Joanna's design and merchandising vision. The clearest example: a literal sign that reads CHIP'S CORNER above a small, inconspicuous table in a corner of the main showroom. It's got a handful of items endorsed by Chip, including Magnolia Farms hats ($24) and "Chip's Favorite Flashlight": a Streamlight Protac 1L super-bright LED model ($65). And that table is pretty much it for Chip and his gear. Everything else in Magnolia Market is all about Joanna's taste and sensibility.
5. The merchandise is generally affordable (but not cheap).
The emphasis at Magnolia Market is on home-design accent and gift items, including bud vases ($8 and up), antique-look signage (for example, a BAKERY sign, $88), Magnolia Farms T-shirts ($26), kitchen canisters (for instance, one labeled with an old-timey Parisian delicatessen's logo, $16), fancy soap ($12), picture frames ($8 and up), silk flowers ($9 and up) and Joanna's Signature Candle ($26). Some, but not all, of the merchandise is available .
6. Some of the merch here is locally made, but much of it is mass-market stuff.
One wall of Magnolia Market is adorned with as-seen-on-Fixer Upper metal signs with homey sayings on them like "Today is a good day for a good day" and "I love you to the moon and back" (small $42; large $95). Those were designed by Joanna and handmade by local metalwork artisan Jimmy Don of . They're charming finds for visitors hoping to bring a piece of Waco back home with them.
But elsewhere around Magnolia Market, price tags indicate country of origin, and often it's not the U.S.A. Those $16 "Parisian" delicatessen-logo canisters? Made in China. A $12 metal flower wreath? Also made in China.
7. The best and worst day to go is Saturday.
Late afternoon on a Thursday, Magnolia Market was rather quiet. On Saturday morning, it was rather mobbed. (It's closed on Sundays.) Though we didn't have to wait to get in, some visitors have reported that entry lines sometimes happen.
The benefit of braving the crowds on a Saturday is that the place comes alive and the community-center vibe really kicks in.
Waco has a strong and growing food-truck culture, and the Gaines have wisely teamed up with the proprietors of some of the best. During our Saturday stop, visitors lined up at Luna Juice Bar, Co-Town Crepes, Cheddar Box (for gourmet grilled-cheese sandwiches), Common Grounds (the mobile offshoot of an iconic local coffee shop on the nearby campus of Waco's Baylor University) and especially Milo Local Provisions (for delicious biscuit sandwiches with names like Sic 'Em on a Chicken, Rebel Yell and Farmer's Daughter).
8. God is in the details.
The architectural finishes and design flourishes both inside and outside are super nice and well thought-out. Even the restrooms are elegant, with heavy black wooden doors, striking black-and-white tile floors, white subway-tile walls and framed illustrations taken from circa-1800s copies of Vanity Fair, like the Duke of Northumberland, a dashing old man in a top hat. If you like the antique-looking white-enamel-on-metal TOILET signs on the doors of the restrooms, you can, of course, buy one ($14).
9. The merchandise mix is constantly evolving.
During our visits, Magnolia Market was heavy on Christmas decor, particularly in the grain barn portion of the complex, just down a flight of stairs from the main showroom. There's a lot of room to grow in the 20,000-square-foot space, and once the Christmas stuff is gone, the grain barn will be an ideal home for Joanna's , set to debut in January.
10. This is just the beginning.
Magnolia Market is certainly ready for prime time as it is, but it stands to become even more of a destination next year—especially once Chip and Joanna Gaines' is open for business.
A not-yet-rehabbed white-brick building on one corner of the Magnolia Market property, just beyond the silos, currently remains closed, but is adorned with a discreet banner that promises "something sweet" in 2016. Though Magnolia Market employees wouldn't confirm it, rumor has it it'll be a bakery. Fortunately, we know a place where the Gaineses could grab a few charming, tasteful BAKERY signs.