I traveled to Waco, Texas, to see the town that has been transformed by HGTV’s hit show ‘Fixer Upper’ — here’s what it’s like

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Joanna Gaines/Facebook

After five successful seasons of “Fixer Upper” on HGTV, Joanna and Chip Gaines are best known for their show in which they sell houses and style them for lucky clients in Waco, Texas.

But the Gaineses have come a long way from their small business flipping houses. Nowadays, it’s safe to say they’ve built a nationally recognized lifestyle brand.

They opened a bakery, publish a quarterly journal, and have their own home paint and wallpaper line, among other things.

Along the way they’ve stayed true to their roots in Waco, often lifting up other small business owners with them.

A longtime fan of the show, I decided to get off my couch and head to Waco last June to check out its “Fixer Upper” transformation.


First, I had to get there. I flew into Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, rented a car, and drove about 100 miles north to Waco. It’s about equidistant from the Dallas airport.

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My drive took about an hour and 45 minutes with traffic.
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Screenshot/Google Maps

Back before “Fixer Upper” the TV show, while Chip Gaines was flipping houses, Joanna Gaines had a dream to run a boutique home-goods shop. The original Magnolia store she opened still stands off a busy street, but they recently moved their business to a bigger store. You can drive by, but the store is closed.

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The original Magnolia shop, at 3801 Bosque Blvd in Waco.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

Now you can visit the Magnolia Market at the Silos instead. The Silos were an abandoned fixture in Waco until Joanna and Chip bought them and relocated their shop next door.

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A free trolley will drop you off right in front of the Silos and goes in a loop around the rest of downtown Waco.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

To read more about the journey from the small Magnolia shop to the Silos, check out “The Magnolia Story,” Chip and Joanna’s recently released memoir.


To orient myself, I checked out this hand-drawn map of the Silos area. You can see the Magnolia shop dominates in the bottom-left corner, and the green area in the middle is open for play and relaxation.

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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

The first thing I noticed when I arrived was the line out the door for the newly opened Silos Baking Co! It was midmorning, and plenty of people wanted their sugar fix.

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Silos Baking Co, 601 Webster Ave, Waco, TX 76706.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

I also needed some sugar, so I joined the swift-moving line for the bakery. We were all given order cards ahead of time to present to the cashier. The inside is decorated in Joanna’s signature black-and-white style, with wood elements on the ceiling.

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Inside the Silos Baking Co
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

In addition to these staples that are always available, there were also two seasonal flavors of cupcakes. I went with fresh peach. The presentation is pleasing and whimsical.

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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

I took a stroll around the area before heading into the store. At different times during the year they host community events here, such as movie nights and concerts. The Silos really make an impressive backdrop.

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Some kids were playing cornhole, and others rested on bean-bag chairs.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

The awning for the new Magnolia shop features simple lettering, a sophisticated upgrade from the vintage sign on the original store that is composed of metal letters in various styles.

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After I was done shopping, a kind Magnolia employee offered to take my photo.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

Though it was still before noon on a weekday, the store was bustling with customers. Employees greeted me throughout, and the cashier line was constantly growing.

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This part of the Magnolia shop is a converted grain barn.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

Of course the shop is styled impeccably. In one corner is a mock-up of the ideal “Fixer Upper” kitchen: white subway tile, farmhouse sink, concrete countertops. Classic!

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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

In addition to a wall showing off their paints, wallpaper, and signs from local artisan Jimmy Don (more on him later), there was a table displaying issues of Magnolia Journal. Each issue features style tips (of course), recipes, small-business owner profiles, and more.

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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

You can buy copies on the Magnolia Market website or subscribe and get four issues a year for $20.


In another corner of the Silos area, there is the Magnolia Seed and Supply Shop. This place has all your garden needs and also pretty photo ops with the flowers.

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Magnolia Seed and Supply, 601 Webster Ave, Waco, TX 76706.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

Surprise! Inside this small shop it was also crowded. It sells everything from planters to seeds, signs to garden tools, and T-shirts.

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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

After all that shopping, it was lunchtime, and I was getting hungry. Luckily a row of food trucks lines the north perimeter of the Silos. Choices for lunch included grilled cheese, crepes, Asian rice bowls, and of course barbecue. I also opted for a real fruit smoothie.

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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

It was getting hot, and I was looking for a place to eat. These covered picnic tables seemed like a genius idea. After eating I gathered up my shopping bags and went to see what else Waco had to offer.

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Also necessary: sunscreen!
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

After Magnolia Market it made sense to go see Clint Harp’s woodworking shop. Clint is often featured on “Fixer Upper,” as Joanna goes to him for custom dining tables, benches, and other cool wood features.

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Harp and Co Design, 808 N 15th St, Waco, TX 76707.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

The inside of the shop is very adorable and features items from Clint but also other local Waco craftspeople and artisans. You can definitely see how these items would fit perfectly in a “Fixer Upper” home.

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Inside Harp Design Co.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

I saw a wooden wall clock I wanted for $62. You can also shop for these things and their furniture on their site.


Fun fact: Right next to Clint’s shop is the house he and his wife bought through the Gaineses and had them fix up in an early season of the show. They don’t live there now and in fact rent it out on Airbnb.

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Harp house
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

The Airbnb listing has lots of great pictures of the inside.


While in the parking lot at Clint’s shop, I ran into a couple who were also on a “Fixer Upper” self-tour. They encouraged me to head out to Jimmy Don’s Ironworks, though it was about a 25-mile drive outside Waco. I figured since I’d only be there once, I needed to see everything, so out into the countryside I went.

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Texas countryside: where your neighbors are cows.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

I arrived to find a pretty nondescript building, but a giant iron gate out front with the initials JDH suggested I was in the right place.

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JDH Iron Designs, 9685 N Lone Star Pkwy, Valley Mills, TX 76689.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

In the front there is a small shop with Jimmy Don’s signature iron signs displayed, but the back is where the real magic happens. These premade signs were all going to Magnolia Market, where they sell for $38 to $84. You can also have him make a custom sign, and they ship across the US.

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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

Jimmy Don was there, and he was nice enough to come out from the workshop to take a photo with me. He also said hello to some other fans in the shop.

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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

His metal artwork is also available for purchase online.


Heading back to Waco, my last stop for the day was the new Magnolia Realty shop. There’s not too much to do here unless you’re buying a house in the area, but it’s a cool building that true to form used to be abandoned and run down until Joanna and Chip came along and fixed it up.

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Magnolia Realty, 816 Lake Air Dr, Waco, TX 76710.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

The next morning before I headed back to Austin, I made sure to swing by Common Grounds, the coffee shop sometimes featured on the show. They also have a food truck at the Silos, but the original shop is on the Baylor University campus.

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Common Grounds coffee shop, 1123 S 8th St, Waco, TX 76706.
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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

I treated myself to an iced chai, and I loved all the seating options. Inside there were vintage couches and chairs, and in this spacious back area plenty of eclectic chairs and tables.

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Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider

Though I didn’t see them in person, Chip and Joanna’s presence is all over Waco. I was happy to show myself around, shop, and chat with employees and other fans.

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When you visit, don’t forget to take your own picture with this sign by the Silos!
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Joanna Gaines/Facebook

At the Austin airport waiting for my plane home, I saw others wearing Magnolia hats and reading the journal. They’ve really gone from transforming one home at a time to transforming an entire town and influencing design across the US!