Since departing Atlanta, we have been living in high society. FDR stayed in his “Little White House”. William Hearst stayed in the Hearst Castle. Two nights ago we camped in the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel Restaurant somewhere in Mississippi, and stayed in another one last night in Waco, Texas. I’m sorry, but does life get any better than that? Can I get an amen for Cracker Barrel? BTW, their hash brown casserole is sick!
Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with the Little White House or the Hearst Castle. It’s just that the grounds crew gets a little nervous when we try to park our trailer overnight. No sense of style or humor. Whatever.
So, back to Waco. What do you think of when you think about Waco? Branch Dravidians? That didn’t end well. In a former business life, I was a member of the Branch Qvidians. That didn’t end well either. Baylor University? You wouldn’t be wrong. What about Chip and Joanna Gaines?
If you are not familiar with TV, the HGTV channel, the show Fixer Upper, or Chip and Joanna Gaines, you may want to find something more relevant to read or do. Maybe another game of Solitaire? Not bad counsel even if you are familiar with the show. Or my blog.
Jeez Brad, will you get to your point? What, I have a point? OK, we circuited through Waco on our way to other destinations because Karen, who is in love with Chip and Joanna (OK, I have a man crush on Chip), wanted to see their Magnolia Silos, a renovated silage business that they have converted into a retail complex that compliments what they do on their TV design show.
This is a mini Disneyworld – no lie. Even better – there are no rides here. Really, the quality of everything that is done is of the highest caliber. If you have an ounce of retail in you, you would get a masters in merchandising, just walking around their store.
If you are familiar with the show, you know it is really just about Chip and Joanna, a couple of their go-to suppliers, maybe some camera and sound guys. Wrong. When I walked into their retail store (next door to the silos), I was amazed at how many people were shopping – this is at 930 am on a Friday morning. Not unlike Disneyworld, there were a lot of people there from Magnolia to help you if needed.
I talked to one of the people working on the floor as to about how many people worked there at any one time, and she said roughly 150 people. Are you kidding me? In fact, throughout Chip and Joanna’s business there are about 600 employees! Yikes!!
Of course, understand this is more than a store – it is an event. There are close to 10 food trucks surrounding the courtyard (one is an Airstream!), there is a garden shop, a bakery (did I mention the baked cookies???), music piped in, outdoor lounge areas and seating, games for the kiddos, and just all in all a very cool vibe. And EVERYTHING is done in perfect taste.
When I say there were a ton of shoppers, I mean the place was crowded. I asked the same person if the place was always so crowded, and she looked at me like I had three heads and said, “This is quiet!” What?
Let’s look at the profile of these shoppers. There were women. And there were wives. And there are guys dutifully waiting for or following their wives. I dare say no one leaves this place without Magnolia recording one or more of your credit card numbers. Don’t worry about carrying this stuff home – there is a dedicated FedEx counter right there in the store to ship your stuff to you. Or to me – don’t forget me.
We did not go out and try to find some of the houses Chip and Joanna have fixed up, but from the abundance of tour buses available, I don’t think that would be a big problem if you were so inclined.
After visiting this place I am thinking I may need to improve my blog – maybe a “design tips for guys”… It would be short.
Look for me on the next Fixer Upper show – you’ll see me dutifully following my wife around the store, nodding positively, and confirming how tasteful the décor would look in our trailer park.