HGTV fans and shiplap aficionados love Chip and Joanna Gaines. This goat-raising, house-redesigning, envy-inducing couple hosts Fixer-Upper, one of HGTV’s most popular home renovation reality shows.
They live in Waco, 95 miles south of Dallas, and reign stylishly over their “silo chic” empire. The show is actually shot in Waco fixer uppers the couple make beautiful, and many of the “before” homes sell for, like, $35,000. For those of us used to North Texas real estate prices, it’s just mind-blowing. I’ve seen a lot of their “all in” dream home budgets ringing in under $100K. Whaaa?
Joanna’s Waco home decor shop, Magnolia Market, sells a range of the accessories people can use to create the show’s aesthetic. This look is sort of “warm-contemporary-meets-barn-door,” hugely popular among Pinterest users, DIY home design lovers, and aspiring urban farmers.
On a recent Saturday, I made the one-and-a-half hour drive to Magnolia Market to see if 1) it is as awesome as many bloggers make it out to be 2) it’s the kind of place Dallas folks are likely to visit for home decor buys and 3) I might catch a glimpse of Chip and Joanna (I’ll admit, I’m a fan of the show and I’m envious of their farm! I want goats!).
The answers to the questions are 1) Yes, with a few caveats 2) Absolutely! 3) Sadly, no. The closest I got to Chip and Joanna was a full-color postcard of them the cashier gave me when I was gushing about my purchase of a wood stump pencil holder and asking how often they come to the store (mostly after hours, she said).
The drive to Magnolia Market is easy—straight south on Interstate 35 for 1.5 hours, with a stop in West for the best kolaches in Texas, of course.
Let’s talk about lines and crowds, because if you don’t deal well with both, then this place is not for you. It opened at 9 a.m. on the Saturday I was there, and I was in line by 8:45 a.m., behind 20 people and in front of 40. When I left at 11 a.m., the line stretched down the block and around the corner.
The crowds inside, as you can see from the photo above, are big, but not insane. Employees keep the number of people in the shop at the legal limit (fire safety, y’all), so it’s not like a mosh pit, or anything (thus the line snaking around the block).
The selection in the market was cute, and I picked up and put down about 15 items as I narrowed my selection. The #shiplap shirt (pictured below) was a no-brainer. The sprigs of cotton, however, were a more difficult call. I ended up leaving those behind.
There are gardening supplies and artificial flowers, candleholders and notepads, pottery and vases and cute tchotchkes galore. This is a very pretty shop, full of fun stuff to pick up and imagine how it would look in your own home if you had the kind of life that allowed a single fragile item to last more than one day before being destroyed by a toddler, dog, or cat. I enjoyed that aspect, at least.
The prices are extremely reasonable—my #shiplap shirt was $26, most vases and votives were under twenty bucks, and the signature magnolia leaf wreath I got this close to buying was $95. My total bill was $60-something for five items. Not bad at all.
There’s not a lot in the store you can’t buy on the Magnolia Market website (in fact, the website has many more lighting options), so why make the trip? Because the Gaineses have gone to a lot of trouble to make the market fun for the whole family. Outside, there’s an expansive grassy area surrounded by food trucks and filled with balls, hula hoops, and little kids playing with their folks and each other.
From what I understand, the enormous silos (pictured below) will be converted into something for the store, and a nearby garden shop promises “coming soon!” How exciting!
Magnolia Market is about the experience. If all you want is that scalloped chalkboard sign and mason jar wire caddy, buy them online and skip the road trip.
But if you want to get to know the town you’ve passed through 100 times to and from Austin or San Antonio, if you want to hang out in the sunshine and eat crepes from a food truck after shopping, make a date to drive to Waco. Get there early, be prepared for crowds, and don’t expect to see Chip or Joanna stocking the mercury glass votive table in back or something. You’ll be glad you did.