becoming the Times Square of Waco
It’s safe to say “Fixer Upper” couple Chip and Joanna Gaines have taken over Waco. With their expanding home renovation and design business, bed and breakfast rentals, and newly announced restaurant opening, the Gaineses have made their mark in Texas.
But no other venture has turned Waco into the travel destination it is today than the famed Silos, which the couple purchased in 2014 as part of their own fixer-upper project.
The 26,000-square-foot property houses a bakery, a home goods store, garden and garden supply shop, and a food truck park. The Silos and its “little something for everyone” is attracting people the nation over, driving tourism traffic up to record highs for the sleepy Texas town.
In an exclusive Fox News interview, Carla Pendergraft, the director of marketing for the Waco Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said that Waco’s tourism traffic — pre-Chip and Joanna —topped out at around 500,000-600,000 people per year. But since the show launched, that figure has more than doubled: In 2016, 1.9 million people visited Waco, and 2017 projections put that number at around 2.6 million.
‘FIXER UPPER’ COUPLES USING AIRBNB TO CASH IN ON CHIP AND JO’S POPULARITY
The monumental influx in tourists is changing the dynamic of the central Texas spot, and the residents have taken notice.
“[Waco had] a little bit of an image issue,” Pendergraft says, alluding to David Koresh and the Branch Davidians religious cult. Before “Fixer Upper,” she says, “it was hard bringing conventions here.”
But now, when anyone pitches Waco, Pendergraft says people respond with, “That’s where they do ‘Fixer Upper!'”
“Waco has seen so many benefits from the show,” she adds.
Wacoans themselves are seeing those benefits by way of a booming economy. Downtown Waco is experiencing some huge changes — more retails spaces and special tourism businesses have sprung up in the wake of the Waco craze, including a specialty “Magnolia Trail” for super fans that want to visit locations Joanna Gaines has mentioned on the show.