A culture shock awaits Church Under the Bridge, where hundreds of Waco’s marginalized gather on Sundays to worship and enjoy a free meal, endu…
The voice on the other end of the line was that of Chip Gaines, part of Waco’s dynamic duo that has made Magnolia and “Fixer Upper” household names.
He talked about the decision he and wife Joanna made to make Magnolia Market at the Silos available to Jimmy Dorrell and his Church Under the Bridge, which will be displaced when Interstate 35 is widened to four lanes each way between North Loop 340 and South 12th Street.
But Chip Gaines, 43, also chatted about the charmed life he and Joanna have lived the past few years: their rise to stardom; the impact of “Fixer Upper” and Magnolia Market on the community they love; and plans for the future.
- Within the next six months to a year, he hopes to “put a finger on an idea” for making better use of the towering grain silos dominating the Magnolia Market grounds. In one, he will open a store that expands the selection of “guy-dominated stuff” occupying Chip’s Corner in the existing market.
Inside he will sell T-shirts, hammers, leather gloves and the like. That’s a given. But a use for the second silo remains elusive, and Chip said he would prefer to renovate both in one fell swoop. He’s still making up his mind.
- Chip and Joanna have placed under contract the 90-year-old Grand Karem Shrine Building at 701 Washington, offering McLennan County $1.1 million for the three-story structure and now weighing their options.
“We’re contemplating how to make it work as our new headquarters,” Chip said. “We haven’t closed on the property, but we’re seriously considering it.”
Magnolia’s nerve center now is located near Bosque Boulevard and State Highway 6, “which is practically in the suburbs,” said Chip, adding that placing it downtown, near the McLennan County Courthouse and a host of inner-city improvement projects, and within walking distance of Magnolia Market at the Silos for those really wanting to stretch their legs, “would be a cool thing for downtown,” another log on the fire of synergy and energy.
“We’ve tried to kick the ball down the field, and it’s been an honor,” he said.
- Chip described as “mind boggling” the drawing power of Magnolia Market at the Silos, which attracts 30,000 visitors a week, according to estimates, including his own. “Many are first-time guests to Waco, Texas, but others are second-timers coming back for various reasons. We know of people moving to town who say, ‘We saw your show, we saw Baylor, and we’re deciding to call Waco home.’ We played a small role, but the reality is we’re turning the page. We had a baby boy about three months ago, and life changes.”
- Chip said he visits Magnolia Market a couple of times a week, as does Joanna. He said interacting with the crowds “is a pretty amazing experience. We feel kind of like rock stars, and they kind of freak out.”
- Chip said he enjoys people-watching from his office at the Silos. Someone, usually a youngster or older person, will catch his eye and get invited up for a visit. “We’ll shoot the bull. I’ll ask about the circumstances that brought them to Waco. I enjoy hearing the stories. I usually give them a gift certificate.”
- Joanna, said Chip, is a “workhorse.” He, on the other hand, “is the knucklehead, rocking and rolling, daydreaming, gazing out the window, trying to see who I can prank.” He indicated he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jobless rate falls
The Waco-area jobless rate continues to fall, according to reports released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It slipped to 3.7 percent in August from 3.9 percent in July and 4.3 percent in August of last year, reflecting an estimated increase of 1,800 jobs in the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area during the past year.
The Waco MSA includes Falls and McLennan counties.
Waco had the 14th-lowest jobless rate among the state’s 25 MSAs, with Midland enjoying the lowest at 2.2 percent, while the McAllen/Edinburg/Mission MSA on the border had the highest at 6.6 percent, according to the workforce commission. The state and national jobless rates both pegged 3.9 percent in August, according to the BLS.
Job growth over the past year locally was highest in education and health services (800 jobs), government, construction and financial activities (300 apiece), and trade/transportation/utilities (200), the TWC reported.
New jams, jellies
The following is an FYI, not a plug or advertisement.
Tyson Charlson, who now lives in Waco, has launched a line of jams and jellies under the Fruipeno name. The products are available at Waco Custom Marketplace, 425 Lake Air Drive, and the Hotel Indigo Waco downtown.
Charlson sent over a news release saying he developed the jams and jellies after sampling a sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce for jalapeno poppers at a restaurant in Virginia Beach, Virginia. So far he has come up with more than a dozen flavors, including Apple Pie Moonshine Jelly, Cinnamon Whiskey Jalapeno Jelly and Rockin’ Margarita Jalapeno Jelly, among others.
They are priced at $6 or $7 per jar, according to the Fruipeno website.
New Dwyer name
The Dwyer Group, a Waco-based company specializing in franchising home-service brands, has officially changed its name to Neighborly, effective immediately, according to a press release from the parent of such brands as Mr. Rooter, Glass Doctor, Mr. Electric and Rainbow International, 21 service brands in all. The new trade name, said the company, “will be reflected at 10 corporate campuses across the U.S., UK and Germany.”
The company website has been changed to NeighborlyBrands.com.
The Dwyer Group was founded in 1981 by the late Don Dwyer.