By Emily Strohm
October 12, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Before Chip and Joanna Gaines hit it big on Fixer Upper, the couple scraped by as small business owners.

“I remember when we first got married the only money we had was what was in Chip’s pocket,” Joanna says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. “He always had a wad of cash, but we were broke. If I needed to go grocery shopping it’s whatever was in his pocket. That’s how we paid the bills.”

The couple is now at the helm of a home improvement empire that includes a hit HGTV show, quarterly magazine, and their new book The Magnolia Story, which comes out Oct. 18.

Plus, they’ve also got a retail mega store, Magnolia Market at the Silos; a real estate company; and they’ve launched a paint, rug, wallpaper, and furniture line.

But when Chip first started flipping houses as a college kid, the business wasn’t so lucrative, and when he married Joanna in 2003, her parents weren’t sold on his unconventional lifestyle.

“Her dad spent the first two years of our marriage asking me if I was going to get a job,” Chip says with a laugh. “I was like, ‘I have a job and I like it.’”

All of their businesses may be booming now, but the Gainses are still surprised at how successful they’ve become.

“All of this sort of fell into our laps,” says Chip. “We were just living our life out here in little bitty Waco. We had dreams and aspirations like most folks, but this has really been something else.”

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