How Much Chip and Joanna Gaines Have Boosted Waco’s Economy and Why Some Aren’t Happy About It
You may remember what Waco, Texas, was synonymous with before the success of Chip and Joanna Gaines‘ HGTV show Fixer Upper. But instead of associating the city with cult leader David Koresh, many people nowadays travel there to visit Magnolia Market at the Silos.
Known as the “Fixer Upper Effect” or “The Gaines Effect” the pair have had quite an impact on the Central Texas town. Even though their show is over Magnolia Market continues to be a booming business that attracts people from all over, but not everyone is thrilled about it.
Here’s more on how much the Gaines’ business has done for the city and why some folks wish it never happened.
Bigger tourist attraction than the Alamo
In the downtown area of Waco stands two large grain silos and a 20,000-square-foot barn which is ground zero for all things Magnolia. Since it’s grand opening in 2015, Magnolia Market at the Silos has become more than a store –it’s now a popular tourist destination.
With more than 30,000 visitors a week and 1.6 million a year, the Gaines’ store gets more traffic than historic Texas landmarks. There are even chartered buses that take tourists from as far away as New York City right to the site to look around and do all the shopping they desire. In fact, last year, TripAdvisor ranked Waco as No. 2 for top tourist destinations on the rise.
“We are actually a destination site now,” said Trish Griffin, a real estate agent who has sold properties in the Waco area for 18 years. “We actually have people moving here because of the show. They come here to do things in Waco.”
The Gaines employ hundreds of people
It also goes without saying that running such a huge operation can’t be done without lots and lots of employees.
According to the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, the Gaineses employ about 600 people and the company is growing.
Their “Effect” also has Waco hotels filled to compacity and several area businesses around the silos reaping the benefits of the HGTV couple’s popularity. And many feel that the Gaines’ market will continue to draw more and more people for years to come.
“I absolutely believe it has staying power,” former Waco Main Street manager Andrea Barefield said. “They have so many irons in the fire. What we need to do is take this and capitalize on it and really create a brand for Waco. We’ve invited millions of people into our home. For organizations like ours, the challenge is, ‘Let’s make sure the front porch is swept, that we change out of the flowers and have curb appeal.'”
But some locals aren’t happy
Of course, you can’t please everyone and some longtime residents aren’t happy about the economic boost and revitalization because it is negatively impacting their lives.
For example, having so many tourists in town means that Waco is more crowded than ever for those who call it home so it’s much tougher to get around. And, some residents have complained that their property taxes have gone up. As one social media user put it they prefer the pre-Magnolia Waco.
“We are going to have empty retailers, or boutiques catering to [tourists] with only minimum wage jobs,” the commenter wrote. “I love Waco, but not Magnolia’s Waco.”
For better or worse, Chip and Joanna Gaines certainly put Waco on the map and now when people think of the area their first thought won’t be about a cult leader.
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