What is Buc-ee’s and How Did It Become So Popular?

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They say everything is bigger and better in Texas, and one of their convenience store – with 66,335 square feet of space – takes this motto seriously. Across Texas, the site of the friendly beaver is a must-stop detour when you’re on a road trip. In fact, no Texas road trip is complete without Beaver Nuggets and Dr. Pepper Icees, which you can only buy at Buc-ee’s. This chain of gas stations/convenience stores/mega marts boasts endless beef jerky options, the best kolaches, and the cleanest bathrooms. Yes, the bathrooms are part of the Buc-ee’s experience.

Buc-ee’s is more than a convenience store – it’s a cult favorite and is like nothing else you’ll encounter on the road. So why is it that Texans – and anyone who visits – love Buc-ee’s so much?

It could be the smell of candied pecans, the variety of treats and merch, or the unique treats you can only buy here. Maybe it’s the clean restrooms or the fact that they have excellent customer service because the employees are well-paid. It’s hard to say how exactly Buc-ee’s stole the heart of many, and we’re going to find out all about it here.

History of Buc-ee’s

a fuel pump outside Buc-ee's

To understand how Buc-ee’s became so loveable, first, you have to know how it came to be.

The first Buc-ees opened in 1982 in Lake Jackson, Texas, by Arch “Beaver” Aplin and Don Wasek. The company’s name is derived from the nickname “Beaver” given to Arch Aplin during his childhood. Aplin’s grandparents, Arch and Mae Aplin, owned a gas station and a general mercantile they dubbed the Biggest Little Store in Catahoula Parish in Harrisonburg, Louisiana. Their son, Arch Jr., went into construction in Texas, and their grandson Arch III inherited the entrepreneurial streak and love for convenience stores.

After spending summers pumping gas and working at his grandparents’ shop, he was eyeing an empty lot in Lake Jackson and knew what he wanted to do with it. Then, he opened a 3,000-square-foot store there in 1982. Inspired by his longtime nickname and his beloved Labrador, Buck, he named the store Buc-ee’s and had a cartoon beaver named Bucky the Beaver as its mascot.

The first Buc-ee location was a relatively modest store compared to the massive establishments for which the brand is known today. But soon enough, Buc-ee’s was growing, but it took a while, and a new partner, Don Wasek, helped him do it. Aplin and Wasek knew what the customers wanted: cheap ice and clean restrooms, and they focused on this as they spread across Texas. They opened the second Buc-ee’s in 1985, with the same focus on cheap ice and clean bathrooms, but made it bigger (6,000 square feet), and the first on-site kitchen offered donuts, sandwiches, and breakfast tacos. In 1989, Buc-ee’s started selling clothing and fishing gear at their Freeport Beach Store, and in 1991, they started hosting live music at their Lake Jackson icehouse.

Buc-ee’s became the store we all know and love in 2003 when they opened their Luling, Texas outpost just off the interstate. The store first offered Beaver Nuggets, barbecue sandwiches, and Buc-ee’s branded t-shirts. The store was massive and still growing.

In 2006, it spread to 17,000 square feet, and it nearly doubled in size in 2009, going from a convenience store to a roadside attraction.

In 2012, Buc-ee’s made a significant milestone by opening its largest travel center in New Braunfels, Texas. This store is the world’s largest convenience store, spanning 68,000 square feet and offering various amenities such as fueling stations, parking spaces, ice freezers, restrooms, and a wide selection of products. The New Braunfels location also gained recognition for having the “Best Restroom in America” in 2012.

Buc-ee’s continued its expansion in Texas, opening stores in Terrell, Fort Worth, Denton, and Melissa. The company also ventured outside of Texas, with locations in Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky. They even opened their first store in South Carolina and announced plans for a store in Tennessee and Missouri.

Over the years, Buc-ee’s expanded its operations, opening new stores throughout Texas. The company’s commitment to cleanliness, customer service, and extensive offerings resonated with customers, leading to its growing popularity. Buc-ee’s became renowned for its large-format stores, often described as “Texas-sized” convenience stores.

The chain strategically placed its stores along major highways and travel routes, targeting road travelers and capturing the road trip culture. Buc-ee’s stores became known as favored rest stops for tourists and locals alike, offering a variety of amenities, snacks, and travel necessities.

Buc-ee’s also gained recognition for its distinct branding and marketing. The company adopted a beaver as its mascot, prominently featuring it in its logo and store designs. The Texan identity and pride were core elements of Buc-ee’s branding, reflected in the store’s Texas-themed merchandise and marketing campaigns.

Today, Buc-ee’s has grown to become one of the most recognizable and beloved convenience store chains in Texas. It prides itself as the “Disney of convenience stores” because it leaves its customers happy, satisfied, and amazed with its store offerings.

Buc-ee’s is known for its continuous growth and dedication to providing excellent customer experiences. With its unique offerings, clean facilities, and friendly atmosphere, Buc-ee’s has gained a devoted following and continues to expand its presence in various states.

What Makes Bu-cee’s So Popular?

the interior of a Buc-ee's in Texas

As we mentioned earlier, Buc-ee’s isn’t just any convenience store. Locals and people passing through highways and Texas byways love them. But why? For one: they have all the fuel you need – gas pumps galore and fuel for the body.

Buc-ee’s has become famous for its unique offerings and exceptional customer experience. Known for having the cleanest restrooms in America, Buc-ee’s provides more than just clean facilities. Their stores are filled with enticing aromas of freshly roasted nuts and offer a wide variety of treats like Beaver Nuggets, which are caramel and sugar-coated corn puffs that are absolutely addictive. If you love candy and beef jerky, Buc-ee’s will not disappoint – the store has a giant jerky wall with 13 different flavors and a massive candy selection.

Customers can also enjoy specialty drinks like Icee flavors that are difficult to find elsewhere. Not to mention, they also have a jaw-droppingly large fountain soda bar, fresh fudge, and all the Aggie gear you need to support Texas A&M. And if you’re headed on a road trip to attend a birthday, party, family reunion, or any other celebration and forgot to buy a gift, Buc-ee’s has you covered.

For those craving a BBQ fix, Buc-ee’s has a counter called the Texas Round-Up that serves mouthwatering brisket, sliced sausage, turkey, and made-to-order sandwiches. While they have a more-than-what-you-need number of jerky flavors, they have even more versions of kolaches (a Texas byway of a Czechoslovakia baked good).

And about those bathrooms – they were named the cleanest in America. According to Texas Monthly, the 56,000-square-foot location in Bastrop, Texas, has 71 toilets and urinals, and they hired a team of cleaners whose only job is to clean the toilets 24/7. Talk about dedication!

Buc-ee’s clean bathroom award isn’t the only one Buc-ee’s can boast about. The convenience store is a record holder in the Guinness World Records, not once, but twice. The first was for the largest convenience store, its location in New Braunfels, Texas (66,446 square feet). To give you an idea of how big it is, the average convenience store is about 3,225 square meters. The second Guinness record was for the longest car wash at its Katy, Texas, location with a conveyor of 255 feet.

Buc-ee’s has a distinct branding strategy, with their mascot, “Buc-ee the Beaver,” adorning their logo and representing their fun and friendly image. The quirky yellow billboards and the allure of the store’s offerings make it a must-stop destination for many travelers.

The company’s name, Buc-ee’s, is derived from the founder’s childhood nickname, Beaver, and the inspiration from his high school’s Buccaneers mascot. This unique name and the beaver mascot have become iconic symbols of Buc-ee’s.

And when you visit a Buc-ee’s location, you will find an entire selection dedicated to Buc-ee’s merchandise. You can find their iconic, affordably priced sweatshirt with the beaver logo on it. You can also find swimsuits, swim trunks, and Buc-ee Boards (their trademarked surfboard), so if you suddenly decide to head to the beach, it’s the perfect store to go to find some swimwear and some gear. They even come with Buc-ee’s birthday party supplies, so the store got you covered if you want a Buc-ee’s themed party.

Also, the company values its employees and pays them well, and they prioritize customer satisfaction by providing everything a traveler might need or want at fair prices. The result is a loyal fan base. When Buc-ee’s opened a 68,000-square-foot store in New Braunfels, Texas, thousands of people flocked to shop on the first day. This location holds the record for being the largest convenience store in the world, a testament to Buc-ee’s dedication to excellence.

Specialty Items You Can Only Find at Buc-ee’s

Buc-ee’s offers a range of special food and drink offerings that have contributed to its popularity. Some of the notable items include:

1. Beaver Nuggets:

These are sweet, caramel-coated corn puffs that are often described as addictive. They come in various flavors like original, caramel, and cinnamon.

2. Buc-ee’s Jerky:

Buc-ee’s is known for its extensive selection of jerky. They offer a variety of flavors and types, including beef jerky, turkey jerky, and specialty jerky like alligator and venison. Their jerky is often praised for its quality and taste.

3. Fudge:

Buc-ee’s is also famous for its freshly made fudge. They offer a wide assortment of flavors, including traditional options like chocolate and vanilla, as well as unique choices such as cookies and cream, maple pecan, and rocky road.

4. Kolaches:

Kolaches are a popular Texan pastry that originated from Czech and Slovak immigrants. Buc-ee’s offers them freshly baked and are filled with ingredients like sausage, cheese, fruit, or even combinations of these flavors.

5. Specialty Snacks:

Buc-ee’s features a range of unique and regional snacks. These may include items like fried pickles, fried alligator, pork cracklings, flavored popcorn, roasted nuts, and various types of chips and pretzels.

6. Fountain Drinks:

Buc-ee’s has an extensive selection of fountain drinks. They offer numerous options for soda, including regional favorites and a wide range of flavors. Customers can also find self-serve iced tea, lemonade, and other refreshing beverages.

7. Specialty Coffee:

Buc-ee’s serves freshly brewed coffee and espresso-based drinks. They often have a variety of flavors, blends, and seasonal options available to cater to different tastes and preferences.

8. Buc-ee’s Merchandise:

You can find an extensive selection of Buc-ee’s branded merchandise, including clothing, accessories, home decor, and even their trademarked surfboard called the Buc-ee Board. These items allow visitors to take a piece of the Buc-ee’s experience home with them.

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