Skies were overcast and the humidity thick Thursday, yet folks carried on as usual at Magnolia Market at the Silos downtown. Two young men threw a football back and forth on the open patch of green just west of the rusty, old silos; a line of humanity spilled out of the Silos Baking Co. building and around the street corner; men relaxed on swings as wives and daughters shopped; and staffers kept handy complimentary umbrellas in case the heavens opened up.
Amidst all this, many folks had already digested word that proprietors Chip and Joanna Gaines’ insanely popular home-restoration TV show “Fixer Upper” would be ending after its fifth season, set to begin in November. In a ledger for visitors to write comments and suggestions, many offered their best: “Love your show, will miss it!” “Absolutely adore your show and your sweet family! I will miss seeing new episodes but will continue to watch reruns! God bless.” “Your shop is delightful! You inspire me! And love the show. God bless on your new adventures.”
No one should be surprised Chip and Joanna are calling for a breather from their show after these hectic seasons on HGTV. Besides restoring and decorating “fixer-upper” homes all over our county to satisfy their producers’ demands, the couple is putting out a home furnishings magazine, operating successful Magnolia Market at the Silos, overhauling the Elite Cafe (and, yes, we say they should name it whatever they wish, given it’s their cash at risk in the always challenging restaurant business) and entering a partnership with Target to market a collection of home goods called Hearth & Hand with Magnolia. They have earned the right to step back, ensure their other ventures prove successful in meeting customer expectations and, yes, spend more time with their four children.
And what of Waco, which has taken on a new glow through the program’s mood-setting montages of the riverfront, Baylor University and some of the open country beyond, not to mention views of attractive neighborhoods when Chip and Joanna escort couples around the area to look at properties? We believe five years of great impressions and the appeal of Magnolia Market at the Silos will continue to draw to Waco folks from elsewhere in the state, nation and world. And besides Magnolia, visitors will be looking the rest of us over. And possibly thinking of our potential.
The “Fixer Upper” phenomenon has definitely created a unique momentum, though one shouldn’t forget considerable investments such as Baylor’s state-of-the-art, $266 million riverfront athletic stadium (which now just awaits a rebuilt football program), a lively dining and entertainment environment along downtown Austin Avenue (try finding a spot to park Saturday nights) and other ambitious projects, some in motion before the show proved such a hit. A Sept. 14 Tax Increment Financing Zone board meeting reaffirmed that not only is commercial interest strong in Waco but, in granting incentives, city leaders are asking wise questions about public expectations and taxpayer returns. That should remind all of us to prioritize customer satisfaction and shrewd investments as we and the Gaineses enter the next chapter in these promising if topsy-turvy times.