- Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new show, “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home,” premieres on January 29.
- In 2019, I went to Waco, Texas, where the “Fixer Upper” duo opened Magnolia Marketplace.
- Before the pandemic, tourists worldwide visited Waco to see the Silos and shop for home goods.
As a former Texan, I know Waco as the small city that is half-way between Dallas and Austin, Texas.
But fans of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper” know it for its abandoned silos-turned-marketplace called Magnolia Marketplace.
In 2018, Waco saw 2.6 million tourists, according to the Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau. Tourism decreased slightly in 2019, and in 2020 they were more than cut in half.
I was one of those tourists in October 2019. While visiting Austin, Texas, I took a Flix Bus to Waco.
Five bucks and two hours later, I was in “bear country.”
I took a Lyft from south Waco …
… to the Silo District in Downtown Waco, a town square with food and shopping, all with a rustic theme.
The Silo district has its own free trolley that stops all over downtown Waco, so shoppers can easily get from store to store.
The trolley is on a flag-stop route, meaning if you see a moving trolley that you want to get on, you can flag down the driver.
I got on the trolley at Magnolia Marketplace at the Silos …
… and when I saw a sign that said both “candy” and “soda,” I decided to get off the trolley at the next stop.
The establishment was called the Sweet Station.
The building served as a gas station in the 1920s and was renovated in 2019 to accommodate a new business – sugar, as KCENTV reported.
I came in for a soda. This is only about half of the selection of soda available at the Sweets Station.
Overwhelmed by the choices, I went with the bubbly beverage I already knew was good.
I paid $US2.17 for my refreshment and continued on my journey.
When I walked outside, I noticed this little message on the side of the building.
I thought it was a nice touch. But it wasn’t the only mural in the area.
Just across the street, a larger and more colourful mural defines Waco as “a city with a soul.”
The mural used to say “Waco feels like home,” Waco Tribune-Herald reported. The new phrase comes from eight articles from the early 1900s that describe Waco as a “city with a soul.”
The mural is behind the Findery — a home goods store that opened in 2015 and is featured on “Fixer Upper.”
The Findery sells all things related to homes, including antique furniture.
Tourists from all over the world come to Waco to shop at the Findery for their homes.
The Findery has had customers from as far as Singapore shop at their store, Waco Today reported in 2017.
Some customers even travel by van to get the most out of their trips to the Findery.
A couple drove all the way from Ontario, Canada, and stuffed their van with goods to take home, according to the same article.
But despite its global impact, the Findery is a family-owned business …
… and it feels like one too. They even have recipes and suggestions next to some of their cooking products.
After my trip to the Findery, I headed back to the Silos, which are just a block away.
And that’s when I realised the Silos were more than just a store.
Magnolia Market has a bakery, food trucks, and a stage.
The Market is open with measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, like mandatory face masks and nightly deep cleaning.
The marketplace seemed pretty busy for a Monday, even in pre-pandemic times.
To me – a 24-year-old renter who spends money on everything but home goods – Magnolia Market was pretty much the same as the Findery, except bigger.
They sold a lot of Magnolia souvenirs, like these mugs.
Even on a Monday afternoon, there was a line at check-out.
After window shopping at Magnolia Market, I headed towards Silos Bakery, where the line was out the door.
Chip and Joanna’s new coffee shop Magnolia Press was much easier to access, maybe because it’s a block away from the Silos.
I was surprised to find the coffee shop so calm compared to the bakery after I learned that Magnolia Press just opened in October 2019.
After my trip to the Silos, I explored more of downtown Waco, where many abandoned houses and buildings have renovation plans.
The fixed-up homes are easy to spot in downtown Waco …
… especially because they’re next to houses that look abandoned.
Some homes had succulents out front in true Texas style.
My downtown stroll led me to another home goods store called Interior Glow …
… where I saw candles with pictures of Chip and Joanna from “Fixer Upper” on them.
I eventually reached the Dr. Pepper Museum, which has been a Waco staple since its opening in 1991. The admission is $US10 for adults.
The Dr. Pepper Museum is open with coronavirus regulations in place like mandatory mask-wearing.
The Dr. Pepper Museum is located in Waco because Dr. Pepper was created there.
In fact, Dr. Pepper used to be referred to as “Waco” because Waco was the only place you could get it, according to Roadside America.
I ended my Waco journey in Austin Avenue District in downtown Waco.
After a long day of walking, I stopped at Coffee Dichotomy and Spirits for a latte.
I wasn’t too surprised to find that even this coffee shop had been fixed up.
This coffee shop was designed by local businesses, artists, and artisans. It certainly captured the rustic charm in all the home goods stores I had been in that day.
I sat and sipped my lavender latte, which set me back $US4.16 …
… and wandered up to the rooftop deck …
… where only one person was sitting on this Monday afternoon. It was a peaceful way to end my day in downtown Waco.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”
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