My Trip to Magnolia
Magnolia, so much more than a small-town family owned business…they’ll make you feel like you’re home.
“I’m going to Waco to see Magnolia”…was the first thing I said when I found out that I’d be making a trip Austin Texas. I didn’t care how far I’d have to drive to visit, I was going to set eyes on Chip and Joanna Gaines vision that came to life through their commitment to making Waco, Texas a great destination to visit and the place they call home. Every Tuesday our family enjoys sitting together and watching the Gaines transform just about anything into a masterpiece of shiplap and exquisite design on their wonderful HGTV show, Fixer Upper. I’d seen their project “The Silos” come to life in the series, followed their blogs on Instagram, and even received their emails but nothing could prepare me for the experience I’d have visiting.
Due Diligence is always my motto so I researched their hours, studied my maps, and also determined what else I’d have an opportunity to see and do while I was in Waco…and my plans were set; Three-hour round-trip drive to Waco from Austin with time to explore in-between.
I flew into Austin early so I popped into my rental car and headed straight to Waco and the drive was beautiful and peaceful and I was able to take in the expansive land that is the Texas Lone Star State. From the interstate it was a straight shot into downtown Waco and it didn’t take me long to lay eyes on the silos and find my way to their free parking area.
The Silos are much bigger in person and so is the entire site made up of the seed market, Silos Bakery, a blossoming stage for concerts, a turf field for games and hanging out in their black and white striped beanbags, covered and uncovered benches, tables, and swings, and of course the Magnolia Marketplace. Joanna Gaines is not fibbing when she says she’s the plant lady…I couldn’t believe all of the greenery and wide variety of plants growing everywhere and the put together team taking care of it all. They packed a punch into the corner lot. I was immediately greeted by the food trucks right on site, lots of happy people enjoying drinks, meals and snacks, greenery everywhere with children running and playing games, lots of Christmas trees lit up, and the bustling staff planting, greeting and maintaining the spotless grounds. I meandered around, taking everything in little by little enjoying the smells from the different food trucks, fresh popped popcorn, and spotting everyone cued up in line at the bakery.
My firsts stop was the Magnolia Marketplace, the original factory located adjacent to the silos. I was greeted cheerily by one of the Magnolia team at the front door welcoming me and then I entered what I like to call Jo’s world. It was a compilation of all the wonderful design pieces, ornaments, jewelry, soaps, big, little, and extra-large pieces tucked into every manicured corner, table, and display. It was bigger and better than I expected and the details simply blew me away. Every station that featured a different type of product was manned by one of the Magnolia team members happily helping me out with what I was interested in seeing and making sure to answer any questions I had. They all carry around Ipads and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, they look it up to see if it’s in the warehouse. Once you pick an item to take home with you they ask your name, and happily take it to the register immediately so that it frees you up to pick up or look at all of the other wonderful pieces around every corner.
EVERY MEMBER OF THE MAGNOLIA TEAM WAS POSITIVE and helpful. I can’t think of any experience I’ve had that was so customer focused. I felt great being there and I felt like I was at home. I’d so far managed not to get overwhelmed by all of the beautiful choices but picked out a pair of the leather earrings that I’m always seeing Joanna wear and a beautiful ornament for our Christmas tree to remind me of my visit.
Then I meandered down the stairs into the next expansive space that makes up the Marketplace and made a b-line for the shirts…I had to have one, or two, or maybe even three, the family sent me with a wish list to bring home for them. Before I could look around at all of the other happy shoppers Justin was right next to me helping me choose which shirts and sizes to get for myself and the family. Of course I struck up a conversation with him and managed to learn so much more about the Gaines and their impact on Waco. Did you know that Magnolio employees over 400 dynamic team members and they’ve come from near and far to work for the Gaines? By the time this blog goes live they will be up to 700 with the expansion of their Magnolia Table location opening in February. Those numbers don’t include the impact on the local workforce including; local artisans that print their t-shirts, design and craft their coffee mugs and so many other pieces made right in town. I wanted to know as much as I could about everyone working there and they obliged me every time I asked. NOONE, and I mean NOONE, had less than a smile on their face, extremely helpful disposition, love for what they were doing and where they were working… well done to Chip and Joanna Gaines for setting the tone for exceptional people working on their team.
Once I’d made up my mind which shirts and hats to buy, and talked Justin’s ear off, he emptied my hands of my purchases and took them to my awaiting pile at the checkout. Clever, the more I picked out, the less I had in my hands, so the more I picked out.
Not to be out-done by Joanna, Chip has his own corner (rumor has it he’s going to have his own silo) which is filled with “Chipisms” from key chains and tools, to hats, shirts, and his book all reminding everyone its DEMO DAY. I’m all about details, but the Gaines are clearly the King and Queen of details at every turn, every step, around every corner. When I say details, you wouldn’t ever dare say you “can’t buy it because you can’t carry it home on the airplane, or it won’t fit in your suitcase”, they have FedEx on site packaging and shipping your items for you…again no detail overlooked.
Three trips around the marketplace and I’d made my final picks of hats, shirts, jewelry, and my Christmas ornament so I was ready to check out. What do you know, I hopped in line, stepped up to the smiling associate, she asked my name, and there it was waiting, already bagged and ready to go home with me; of course, after I confirmed my email, and easily popped my credit card into the reader which detailed all of the items that would be in my Magnolia Market brown bag.
A quick stop at the #milestomagnolia sign for a picture and then I headed to the Silos Bakery because there was no line! I walked in and was greeted by Dare and her angelic smile. She explained that it would save me time if I filled out the card with all of the items to choose from on, then walk it up to the counter. Wow, talk about efficient. Of course, since it was a slow moment in the day and she was the brightest light I’d met in a long time, I spent some time talking to her, had her snap a photo of me and asked her about which bakery items I should choose. I could have left with the entire shop but what was I going to do with all of it? Here’s what I chose.
I took a quick break to eat my Gingerbread whoopi pie, well at least half of it, and just sat quietly to again observe the hustle and bustle of the team rearranging plants, trees, watering, cleaning, it was like magic how quietly and politely they moved about making Magnolia beautiful. I nice gentleman must have seen me taking pictures for the blog and offered to take one of me in it, thank goodness, I’m usually finding creative ways to ask people to snap my pic. He and his wife were stopping through to visit magnolia on their drive home to Atlanta after visiting family in Texas.
I had some time, and luckily the Gaines have a great brochure everywhere you turn at Magnolia detailing other wonderful stops to make while I was in Waco that weren’t already on my list so away I went. I actually had to do a double-take because near the Silos was one of the Fixer Upper projects it looked so cute in person I had to take a photo. I drove around town to take in lots of sights and it looks like a lot of construction going on in downtown Waco which is a good sign to see shops and buildings being renovated.
About 1 ½ miles from the silos I happened upon a strip featuring vintage, antique and specialty stores. My first stop was La Grange. Luckily, she was open because most of the shops farther from the Silos are only open on the weekends. What a lovely store for vintage and antique pieces. I met one of the owners and was able to purchase some creative scrabble piece displays for Christmas gifts and some vintage white vases. Since the other shops were closed because it was Wednesday, I ventured over to Café Sironia a must-see if you’re visiting Waco. It’s a café and shopping experience that lets designers, jewelry specialists and small retailers all converge in one convenient location, with their own shops to spotlight their creative items. It was definitely the locals spot for eating a great bite and then picking up unique finds. I was able to meet the owner of Scout, located inside, who creates beautiful topiaries, and other gift items as a hobby while her full-time job is working at Baylor University. I just love the outside of the box approach to allowing artisans a convenient and affordable spot to reach an audience, they sure got me I left with several Christmas presents as well.
There is more to see in Waco than my time would allow, but the three hours I had was an amazing experience and one I’d encourage anyone to make time for. Hats off to Chip and Joanna Gaines on the impact they’ve had on Waco and to the other small business owners that made my visit so special.
Headed to the Lone Star State? Make a special trip to Waco Texas and be wowed by the Silos and all of the other charms the hospitality this town has to offer.
Happy Trails...and always be Timeless,