“Fixer Upper,” the HGTV show that made the renovation of Waco homes a prime-time television staple, will end after its fifth season, stars Chip and Joanna Gaines announced Tuesday.
On her blog, Joanna Gaines said the couple came to the decision with “sadness and expectation,” citing a desire to “catch our breath for a moment.” Season 5 is set to air starting in November.
“Our plan is to take this time to shore up and strengthen the spots that are weak, rest the places that are tired and give lots of love and attention to both our family and our businesses,” she wrote.
Those businesses include Magnolia Market at the Silos, which brings an estimated 20,000 people a week to Sixth Street and Webster Avenue and has encouraged other development in the same section of downtown.
They recently inked a deal with Target to carry a line of housewares and have a furniture line, local real estate and short-term rental ventures and the soon-to-open Magnolia Table at the former Elite Café on the Waco Traffic Circle.
“Fixer Upper” started as a pilot in 2013, with the couple renovating a home in the Castle Heights area. At the time, they had a small renovation company and had run a small home decor shop on Bosque Boulevard.
“Though our ‘Fixer Upper’ chapter is coming to a close, we aren’t done with Waco,” Joanna Gaines wrote. “We aren’t done renovating homes. We aren’t done designing things to make your home your favorite place on earth. We aren’t done working toward restoration in all things or helping out those who could use a hand. In fact, in all of these things, we are just getting started.”
The couple’s “Fixer Upper” chapter included renovations to 80 houses.
During its time in the spotlight, which will continue for another season, the show has already set HGTV ratings records, made “shiplap” as part of the national vocabulary and showcased charming vignettes and landmarks of Waco.
The success of the show spurred a spin-off series, “Fixer Upper: Behind the Design,” and the Season 4 finale garnered more than 5 million viewers, according to Variety. It was among the top cable telecasts in the second quarter of 2017, according to CNN.
HGTV wished the Gaineses the best in a post on its website titled “We Love Chip and Jo.”
“We understand their decision to spend more time with their family,” the post states. “Like all of their fans, we want only the best for them and they know they will always have a home at HGTV.”
Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver said the couple’s influence and the impression they have created won’t fade with the last airing of “Fixer Upper.”
“They have shown the nation and the world what a great place Waco is as a place to live and work,” Deaver said. “They have demonstrated their creative ability and their knack for launching new products, and I don’t think the final season of ‘Fixer Upper” will be their last mark on the media or retail.
“We have known since the beginning that at some point they would not want to produce the show, and we’ve been preparing for that with moves to spur growth downtown. People will visit Magnolia Market long after ‘Fixer Upper’ is over, but we also have the Mammoth National Monument, as well as improvements downtown and along the river, to keep people wanting to come back to Waco.”
Carla Pendergraft, director of marketing at the Waco Convention Center, said she would be nervous if the Gaineses’ only claim to fame were their reality show.
“No one knows what the future holds, but Magnolia Market and other ventures involving Magnolia seem at the height of their popularity,” Pendergraft said. “I’m not sure they need ‘Fixer Upper’ to continue the momentum. I’m sure there will be ‘Fixer Upper’ reruns, and I’m told advertising rates for those are the same as for new broadcasts, which is an indication of how popular they are. As long as they continue to add elements to Magnolia Market, visitors will return again and again.”
The attraction contributes to the 75.5 percent hotel occupancy rate in the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area, the second-highest in the state, Pendergraft said.
There is no denying the depiction of Waco and its quality of life, as seen on HGTV, is priceless, said Kathy Schroeder, who oversees residential services for Coldwell Banker Jim Stewart Realtors.
“We have become a tourist attraction, with tour buses coming through, and it’s partly because Chip and Joanna have brought so much attention to Waco, the countryside, the river. Viewers get a vibe that is hard to resist,” Schroeder said. “But there is so much more, the Silos, the bed-and-breakfast locations. And they probably have more up their sleeve.”
Megan Henderson, executive director of Center City Waco, said Chip and Joanna have created a “positive buzz,” that will not go silent as the curtain drops on “Fixer Upper.”
“They created a track record and a level of traffic that will carry them forward,” Henderson said. “I’m not looking for attendance to drop off a cliff.”
“I don’t see this as doomsday,” said Matt Fatheree, whose family owns a housewares store and novelty shop called The Findery, which is located just a couple of blocks from Magnolia Market at the Silos. “I think retailers down here besides Magnolia have really established themselves and are growing their own customer base, though they first came to see us because of our proximity to Magnolia Market.”
Gregg Glime, a local real estate agent involved in several high-profile developments downtown, including Mary Avenue Market, said he had received four email messages by mid-morning Tuesday from clients who had heard the unwelcome news that “Fixer Upper” is ending.
“These people have either signed letters of intent on downtown space or are in the middle of a build-out,” Glime said. “I don’t think they are necessarily concerned, more curious than anything.”
He said Magnolia “was a spark” that has contributed to downtown’s renaissance, “but the rest of us have been able to catch up.”
Late Tuesday, Chip and Joanna released a statement, saying, “On the heels of this morning’s news about our final season of ‘Fixer Upper,’ we’d be remiss not to share the overwhelming sense of gratitude we feel for this city and this community. For more than two decades, we’ve been fortunate enough to call Waco home.
“And while our time on ‘Fixer Upper’ is coming to an end, our time in Waco is not. This is such a special place, and we can’t wait to see how this next chapter in our life unfolds.”
In her original blog post, Joanna Gaines dismissed rumors that have spread through tabloids and online spam ads.
“Our family is healthy, and our marriage has honestly never been stronger,” she wrote. “This has nothing to do with a fraudulent skincare line or anything else you’ll inevitably read.”
In a video message from the couple, Chip Gaines said he has enjoyed the “Fixer Upper” years.
“The experience has been like nothing we could ever imagine, that God would have this kind of journey for Jo and I. ... Our family has grown up before your eyes on national television. The experience has been beautiful.”