A decade ago no one dreamed that two abandoned cottonseed silos would become the icon of a burgeoning retail empire—yet that is exactly what happened. After the Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Mill closed in 1958 and the silos ceased to serve as storage in the 1990s, they became little more than a challenge for trespassing youth to climb for over a decade. Though some students still bemoan the fact that they missed their chance to scale the old rusty edifices, the Waco community has undoubtedly benefited from the newfound fame of Magnolia Market at the Silos.
Just like any booming business, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market blossomed from humbler roots. The retail giant began in Spice Village, a local Waco shopping spot that houses over sixty boutique stalls under one roof in downtown. But Joanna Gaines quickly needed more room to develop her brand, so she and Chip bought the “Little Shop on Bosque” in 2003 that served as their first stand-alone retail store. The shop also happened to be one of their first “fixer-upper” projects, as they transformed the small, rundown building into an attractive home décor destination.
But the Little Shop on Bosque was only the beginning. In 2013 the couple took on a whole new challenge: television. Chip and Joanna took their Magnolia Homes brand and brought it to HGTV—a popular home improvement network. On the show, the Gaines bought run-down homes in the Waco area and turned them into manifestations of Joanna’s farmhouse chic style. The new TV show, Fixer Upper, exploded in popularity, turning more attention than ever on Waco and their small retail shop.
With Fixer Upper came worldwide acclaim, and with worldwide acclaim came tourists. Thrust into the modern tourism scene, Waco had some catching up to do, and so did the Gaines. Within a year, Chip and Joanna procured what would become the symbol of the brand, the Silos, and surrounding real estate. True to the nature of the TV show, these old silos needed immense renovation and the Joanna Gaines touch before they could welcome visitors. The Gaines quickly turned the neighboring building into the retail store, built a stage in front of the silos and a small building for the Magnolia Seed & Supply Garden Store, and drew up plans to convert the other adjacent building into a bakery. After turning these buildings around, in addition to copious landscaping and gathering of food trucks, the Silos were ready to go.
Even with the launch of the store and food truck park in 2015, it was not until the Silos Baking Company moved into the last empty building in June 2016 that the Silos felt complete. Joanna had spent a great deal of time crafting recipes for her baked goods, and they were ready to be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Already known for its crowds, the Silos now also had a bakery line stretching around the corner each day.
In all, the Gaines not only transformed an old Waco landmark, they helped transform the city, as evidenced by a growing downtown, expanded restaurant scene, and even tour buses seen around town daily. Though Fixer Upper stopped filming in 2018, the droves of tourists have yet to abate. But with a new Magnolia line at Target and a construction company that continues on without the cameras, the Gaines are not really slowing down. Whether it is for the home décor, the food trucks, or the cupcakes, during their time in Waco thousands of travelers go and rest in the shade of the Silos and soak up the atmosphere the Gaines crafted. It is no overstatement to say Magnolia Market at the Silos is and will continue to be an important addition to Waco history.