Here’s Why Everyone Hates Waco, Even With Chip and Joanna Gaines
It seems like everything Chip and Joanna Gaines touch turns to gold. Just a few short years ago they were just small business owners from Texas trying to make it in the world.
Today? They’re instantly recognizable from coast to coast and even worldwide, with legions of adoring fans referring to them on a first name basis. They built their business from the ground up, including a top-rated television show, a retail lifestyle center, a restaurant, a book, a magazine, and oh yeah, that construction and real estate company they’ve owned all along. In just a few short years the Gaineses built a damn empire.
And at the heart of that empire is their beloved city of Waco, Texas. Homeowners from Savannah to Sacramento cry bitter tears when they realize Chip and Jo refuse to travel more than 40 miles outside their home base for renovation projects. But the whole thing begs the question: Without Chip and Joanna, would anyone be caught dead in Waco?
Waco had a bad reputation for years
Long before Magnolia Market was just a twinkle in Joanna Gaines’ eye, a few unsavory events went down in Waco.
For starters, there was that infamously deadly situation in 1993. A man named David Koresh led a cult sect called the Branch Davidians who believed the end of the world was near. They stockpiled weapons and ammo in their Waco hideout and in February of ’93, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms staged a raid on the compound.
A 51-day standoff between Koresh and federal agents ended in disaster on April 19th when Koresh shot himself and set the buildings ablaze. More than six dozen inhabitants, including women and children, died in the fire.
Next: The cult wasn’t the only bad press for Waco.
Remember the wacko from Waco?
Before shiplap took over the nation, there were shootings and bar fights in Waco.
You may have heard the one about Billy Joe Shaver, who shot a man in the face outside a bar in Waco (but didn’t kill him). He pled self defense since the man had threatened him with a knife prior to the incident. Willie Nelson was a character witness during the trial. And oh yeah, they even wrote a song about it.
Then there was that motorcycle gang shootout at a Twin Peaks restaurant in 2015. Nine bikers were killed and 18 were injured in the deadliest shootout in Waco since the Branch Davidian siege.
Next: This Fixer Upper couple has some serious regrets about buying in Waco.
These ‘Fixer Upper’ alums didn’t exactly get their dream house
Even Waco residents who are connected to the show can’t escape the darker side of the city.
Chip and Joanna boast that they find “the worst houses in the best neighborhoods” to remodel for their clients. But that wasn’t the case for the Downs family.
They were overjoyed by their renovation results when they appeared on Fixer Upper. But as they spent time living in the neighborhood, their opinions started to change. It all came to a head when a drunk driver crashed into the front of their house.
“It’s like the Wild West here. There’s been a lot of commotion coming from the bars and the store across the street,” homeowner Kelly Downs told the Waco Tribune. “This is a Fixer Upper gone bad.”
The couple went on to say they felt “deceived” by Waco and Magnolia Realty.
Next: Crime statistics for Waco aren’t very promising.
Violent crime rates are rising
Like any city, Waco has so-called good and bad sections, but overall the violent crime rate is on the rise. In fact, violent crime instances reportedly tripled in 2016 in the city of Waco.
Next: Strangers love the Gaineses more than their neighbors do.
Waco residents aren’t necessarily in love with Chip and Jo
There’s no disputing that the Gaineses’ influence has made a huge impact on tourism to Waco. In 2015, Waco hosted around 660,000 visitors. In 2016, that number jumped to 1.9 million. Magnolia Market entertained 1.2 million of those people.
But journalists interviewing residents sometimes hear a different story. Certain Waco residents are quick to point out Waco’s other landmarks, as if people are flocking there for the town itself. They often downplay the Chip and Joanna effect or pretend they’ve never heard of them. It’s almost like they’re ignoring the Silos in the living room. But why?
Next: Real estate prices in Waco are rising.
More tourists means fewer parking spots — and higher taxes
Not everything about the “Magnolia effect” is positive.
Besides just more traffic and less available parking, critics also blame the show’s popularity for increasing downtown property tax values, which went up 20% in 2017 and 30% in 2016.
Some claim that people moving into Waco from other cities has caused a housing speculation bubble, essentially inflating the cost of real estate in the area. This can make it difficult for buyers to purchase for a fair price and could affect resale value down the road when the bubble inevitably bursts.
Next: In the end, it all came down to luck.
Waco is the town that got lucky
Really, it’s a total coincidence that Chip and Joanna happened to be Baylor graduates residing in Waco. If it had been another town in another state, Waco would still be suffering from the same image concerns as before. And now that the show is ending, there’s a chance that tourism could decrease again.
“Our colleagues in the convention and visitors industry are very jealous,” Carla Pendergraft, marketing director at the Convention and Visitors Bureau explained to USA Today. “They ask us what it’s like, and I say, ‘lightning in a bottle.’ We make sure people understand we just kind of got lucky. But maybe we were due for a little good luck.”
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