Buc-ee’s: How the Texas convenience store became a cult favorite around the world
They say everything is bigger and better in Texas, and one convenience store takes this motto—66, 335 square feet of space—seriously.
Across Texas, the site of friendly Bucky the beaver means a must-stop detour through the aisles and aisles of goodies, from beaver nuggets to 20-plus options of beef jerky.
The cult favorite is more than just a convenience store and travel spot. The store, with its world records and extremely clean restrooms, has become an undeniable rite of passage when becoming a Texan.
So why is it that Texans love Buc-ee’s so much?
It could be the friendly smile of Bucky the mascot, the smell of candied pecans, the variety of fun treats and merch. Or maybe, it’s that it has the cleanest restrooms. It’s hard to say how exactly Buc-ee’s stole the heart of millions.
The first Buc-ee’s opened in 1982 in Lake Jackson by co-founders Don Wasek and Arch “Beaver” Aplin. Bucky, the beaver mascot, was named by Aplin after combining his childhood nickname Beaver, the name of his Labrador Retriever Buck, and a mascot from Ipana, a toothpaste manufacturer in the 50s named Bucky the beaver.
Since then, Buc-ee’s has expanded to 32 locations throughout Texas and has even delighted folks in Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and soon Kentucky and North Carolina with its out-of-state locations.
Martin Loya, general manager at the New Braunfels Buc-ee’s, worked as a store director at Academy Sports + Outdoors for 16 years before switching over to the beaver side. Loya said he was not having as much fun at his last job as he does at the New Braunfels store, where customers from all over the country come in excited to be in the iconic store.
“This is a great company,” Loya said. “The pay is great, there are benefits straight off the bat. We are the Disney of convenience stores.”
Although locals make it a habit to visit the New Braunfels Buc-ee’s location, Loya said he sees more tourists visiting the store. Recently, a large group touring all the Buc-ee’s locations stopped at the New Braunfels store to take photos and tour it.
From miles away, the quirky, yellow billboards entice you to make a stop. Whether you’re in dire need of a bathroom stop, filling up your tank or needing some grub, Buc-ee’s is the homeland for all the things you didn’t know you needed or wanted—all 24 hours of the day.
And, it’s all too familiar of an experience to make a “quick stop” and spend hours perusing the store like a kid in a candy store. But some don’t kid themselves and make it a planned stop on their trip across the great state.
Alexis and Gabe Jones made a much-anticipated stop at the New Braunfels Buc-ee’s after visiting family in Central Texas. “I love Bucee’s!” Alexis said, very excited to be visiting the beaver store.
The couple, who live in Idaho, left the snow and cold for sunny and warm weather and of course, Bucky the beaver. Alexis, who has been a big fan of the mascot and all things Bucee’s, said she loves how massive and unique the convenience store is.
Gabe, who had first heard of Buc-ee’s from Alexis and an unknown beaver keychain, did not understand the “hype,” but found he enjoyed his first time visiting the store. From buying fresh foods to memorabilia and souvenirs, the couple left the store feeling accomplished and in the good ol’ Buc-ee’s spirit.
“It’s like a mall,” Gabe said. “There’s Hobby Lobby over here, Walmart over there and everything else there. I recommend everyone to visit Buc-ee’s.”
To top off the love and support Texans and newcomers hold for Buc-ee’s, the convenience store holds two world records that puts it on the international map. The New Braunfels Buc-ee’s location holds the title of the world’s largest convenience store at 66,335 square feet with over 1,000 parking spots and 120 gas pumps. And any Texan who has driven through I-10 has seen the world’s largest car wash in Katy with 225 feet of conveyor, the car wash is more of a playland for cars and has all kinds of scrubbers, different washes and multi-colored foam.
As the perfect place for all travelers, Texans are lucky they don’t have to be traveling to visit a Buc-ee’s near them.