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20 Years of Magnolia

by Chip Gaines
Published on January 20, 2023

2003 was a year like no other. Newly married and ready to take on the world, Jo had set her sights on a little shop on Bosque Boulevard in Waco. We didn't have much figured out in the way of numbers and finances, but we believed in each other, and we believed in a dream to build something that would matter—something that would be meaningful, not only to us, but to our family and our community. And who knows, maybe even the world. Since then, we've been on a ride we never could have predicted in a million years.

Maybe I’m feeling sentimental because this marks 20 years since we first opened Magnolia. That’s hard for me to believe. In those years, Jo and I have started a family and went from 2 of us to 7. Our business grew by even more. We won. We lost. We learned. We wrestled with the temptation to settle for the easy path, always keeping one another accountable to the truth we held on to like our lives depended on it: we had something to offer this world, something we hoped would matter.

In retrospect, it's hard to parcel out the journey into a cut-and-dry story. Everything is mixed up and folded together. But there are moments that shine a little brighter in my memory. Like day one of Fixer, and the rainstorm on our very first Silobration. That downpour turned the Silos grounds into a mud pit—and yet we watched the skies open up the minute our friends, Johnnyswim, took the stage to sing their hearts out. There was my chance meeting with a long-distance runner named Gabriele Grunewald in Central Park that turned into an annual marathon at the Silos. The kids at St. Jude. Opening the doors of Magnolia Table. We started a print magazine in the digital age and a television network when everyone went to streaming. We bought an old church, a dilapidated castle, and a newspaper building. We doubled down on forgotten places and impossible projects. I can't explain it. When the world zigged, we zagged. For better or worse, we've trusted our gut instincts and held on to faith with a white-knuckled grip, trusting that no matter how something may appear on the surface, there's always beauty waiting to be revealed underneath. The same is true for me. And for you. I guess that's the whole secret to success. To be resolute in the face of all the voices telling you to give up, give in, or forfeit, because you just know what's on the inside is worth fighting for.

We’ve come a long way from where we started. Time is roaring past us, just like we’ve all been warned. The kids are growing up and the business went from that Little Shop on Bosque to what it is now. A network, books, a retail business, a place for people to come and visit. We’re so proud of it all. Truly. And the amount of work to bring those things to fruition can’t be overstated. A whole team of people have bought into the idea that a company in Waco called Magnolia could have a chance at making the world a better place. That we can bring people home, so to speak, and remind them that what matters most in life is one another. Of all we’ve done, I’m most proud when we do that.

So here’s to the past twenty years, and here’s to the next twenty. Maybe you’ve been with us for a long time, or maybe you've just found us. Either way, we're grateful for you. And don’t go anywhere—we’re just getting started.

- Chip