Chip and Joanna Gaines Have Remade Waco

It may be just another home improvement show on a niche network, but 'Fixer Upper' on HGTV has meant millions of dollars, literally, to hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines' home town of Waco, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Carla Pendergraft of the Waco Visitors Bureau says five years ago, annual visitors to Waco were pretty steady, with almost all of them in the city to visit students at Baylor University, or to attend a Baylor sporting event.

"About 650,000 visitors a year."

So how do Waco's tourism numbers look today, thanks to Chip and Joanna?

"We're now up, with the Silos, we are up to 2.7 million visitors," she said.  "So our tourism has quadrupled in four years."

She says the main attraction for those visitors is Magnolia at the Silos, which is much like San Antonio's Pearl development.  It is an early Twentieth Century industrial facility which has been repurposed into shops featuring Chip and Joanna's popular Magnolia brand home improvement products.  The complex also includes restaurants, boutiques, and other attractions.

"We have a whole new industry which has kind of sprung up around the Chip and Jo phenomenon, the whole 'Magnolia effect'."

Pendergraft says Waco has had to add several new hotels just in the past few months to accommodate the new flow of visitors.  

Existing tourist attractions, including the Dr. Pepper Museum and the Baylor University Mayborn Museum, which is currently hosting a very popular traveling exhibition of items rescued from the Titanic site, have 'upped their game' to take advantage of the new tourism boom.

Chip and Joanna Gaines have become a force of nature in the home improvement industry.  They were recently announced as the headliners of the National Retail Federation's annual Big Show in New York City, and their Magnolia brand merchandise is among the top selling items in the category.

IMAGE: GETTY

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