Buc-ee's: The Walmart of convenience stores
The bold, beaver-themed chain is redefining the megastore model
Walk into one of the nearly 50 Buc-ee’s travel centers and you may be converted into a beaver mascot-worshipping member of a cult.
It’s a brilliantly marketed concept that has grown into the mega-chain across seven southern states. Each store offers cheap fuel, clean restrooms, food and gift items on a grand scale.
Clever billboards — think of an update version of the Burma Shave ads that greeted travelers on Route 66 — provide smiles with slogans like “Your Throne Awaits. Fabulous Restrooms.”
Bucky, the mascot for the mega-travel center chain, makes an appearance at an Auburn, Alabama, store. (Photo by John Naughton.)
While Iowa-based chains like Casey’s and Kum & Go have become national players in the convenience store game, Buc-ee’s is a beaver behemoth that can pull in visitors for more than an hour, in some cases.
The first one opened in 1982 in Clute, Texas, as a modest version of what would become the booming chain. Founder Arch Aplin III, whose childhood nickname was Bucky the Beaver, had an eye for expansion.
The largest store, in New Braunfels, Texas, stretches 66,335 square feet, according to the company website.
The Buc-ee’s Calhoun, Georgia, location offers more than 100 gas pumps. (Photo by John Naughton.)
Most of the locations are in Texas, but all of the stores offer Texas-inspired food and merchandise: Freshly chopped beef brisket sandwiches, seasoned roasted nuts, mountains of jerky, oversized barbecue grills, Hill Country kolaches stuffed with sausage and other fillings.
Employees may earn higher wages that at other chains and seem to be a loyal, friendly bunch.
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