Most of us take convenience stores for granted. First of all, they are everywhere. Secondly, most are pretty mundane. A trip to an average convenience store is certainly not fodder for a TikTok video or other social media post. However, a trip to Buc-ee’s almost requires social media documentation. It is part convenience store, and part life experience that must be shared with family, friends, and followers. Unlike a typical convenience store that is nothing more than a short pit stop on the way to your actual destination, Buc-ee’s has evolved into a destination itself. Here’s a look at the states where Buc-ee’s can be found, along with a glimpse into why these stores have garnered such a fiercely loyal fanbase. (Wawa is one of the few convenience stores that elicits a similar devotion from its fans. Here’s where you can them.)
Why do so many people love Buc-ee’s? It starts in the bathroom. If that sounds strange to you, then you probably haven’t been a Buc-ee’s yet.
Most convenience store restroom facilities fall somewhere between “this is kind of gross” and “I need a hazmat suit.” The bathrooms at Buc-ee’s, however, are clean. Super clean. Absurdly, ridiculously clean. So clean, in fact, that the store’s restroom facilities have won a national award.
Beyond their near-mythical cleanliness, the actual design of the restrooms is unlike any other. Remember George Costanza’s visionary idea of extending the doors of the bathroom stalls in Yankee Stadium all the way to the floor? Apparently, Jerry wasn’t the only one who thought it was “a fantastic idea.” Buc-ee’s turned Costanza’s dream into a reality in their legendary bathrooms.
Most Buc-ee’s restrooms have 50-80+ toilet stalls. The stalls are gigantic and, yes, the walls/doors of each stall stretch all the way to the floor. Many stalls even have artwork displayed inside (which could have saved Costanza a lot of trouble when he was caught sneaking an art book into a public bathroom).
The huge, sparkling clean bathrooms at Buc-ee’s are the bedrock of the entire business model. What is the first thing you do when you stop at a convenience store on a road trip? You make a beeline for the restroom, right? If the facilities are sketchy (or downright disgusting), the odds of you spending additional time and, more importantly, money in that store drop precipitously. The facilities at Buc-ee’s, on the other hand, are so clean and inviting that customers naturally linger inside the store. And when they do, they find a whole new type of road trip shopping experience.
“Fresh brisket on the board!” Those five words can trigger a Pavlovian response among the throngs of Buc-ee’s fans who love the chain’s signature brisket sandwich. If you never thought a convenience store could serve up mouthwatering Texas brisket then, once again, you probably haven’t been to Buc-ee’s. The brisket is slow-smoked in-house and then sliced fresh right before the customers’ eyes.
Along with the brisket, Buc-ee’s also offers turkey, pulled pork, and other barbecue options. You can also grab a kolache, a sausage or custard-filled pastry that was introduced to Texas by Czech immigrants in the 19th century. If you stop at Buc-ee’s in the morning, you can also grab a breakfast taco or biscuit sandwich.
Buc-ee’s also offers a staggering variety of sweet and salty snacks. You can find the major brands that adorn nearly all convenience store shelves, but Buc-ee’s also offers tons of their own products. You can purchase roasted nuts and fried potato chips, both made in-house. But the king of grab-and-go snacks at Buc-ee’s is unquestionably the Beaver Nuggets. No stop at Buc-ee’s is complete without picking up a bag of these buttery caramelized cornmeal puffs.
Buc-ee’s offers a wide variety of southern favorites, such as banana pudding, spiced saltine crackers, dozens of pickle varieties, and even buckets of bacon grease. We’re not kidding. If you need a 7.5-pound tub of bacon grease (and who doesn’t?), then a stop at Buc-ee’s is most certainly in order.
And then there is the beef jerky…a whole wall of it. The flavors are as numerous as you might imagine, with everything from teriyaki to cherry maple to Bohemian garlic to Korean BBQ to ghost pepper.
To top off your Buc-ee’s experience, head for the fudge counter. Seriously, any convenience store with its own fudge counter is automatically awesome. Customers can choose traditional flavors such as chocolate, but this is no time to play by the normal fudge rules. Ever wonder what watermelon fudge tastes like? Wonder no more! Buc-ee’s offers dozens of different flavors, so it may be best to grab a sample box.
Every Buc-ee’s is open 24/7/365, so you can fuel up any time. The average Buc-ee’s has 100 gas pumps. With so many pumps, you surely won’t have to wait in line, right? Not so fast. Buc-ee’s is so wildly popular that every pump is often occupied. Plus, the fuel prices are typically lower than surrounding gas stations, giving drivers even more incentive to fill their tanks at Buc-ee’s. Pro tip: when fueling up at Buc-ee’s, don’t leave your car parked at the gas pump when you head inside to explore the store. You’ll probably spend more time shopping than you think. Even with 100+ gas pumps, there are plenty of times when every single pump is in use. Do other drivers a big favor and move your vehicle before heading inside the “Disney World of gas stations.”
You won’t have to look out for big rigs in the parking lot, though. Buc-ee’s is not a truck stop. In fact, 18-wheelers are expressly prohibited unless they are delivering goods to the store itself. This is a controversial policy in certain circles, but it is one that Buc-ee’s strictly enforces.
Buc-ee’s World Records
These stores aren’t just big. Their mammoth size has set world records.
The Buc-ee’s in Katy, Texas boasts the longest car wash in the world with a 255-foot conveyor. That is about 80% of the height of the Statue of Liberty.
The average U.S. convenience store has about 2,500 square feet of floor space. The Buc-ee’s in Sevierville, Tennessee, which opened in June, is the largest convenience store in the world at 74,707 square feet. That is bigger than the White House, which measures 55,000 square feet.
That Tennessee store will not hold the world record for long, though. A new Buc-ee’s location that spans 75,000 square feet will open in Luling, Texas in 2024. And even that record-setting store will soon be surpassed by an 80,000-square-foot Buc-ee’s store scheduled to open in Ocala, Florida in 2025.
Where Can You Find a Buc-ee’s?
While convenience stores are never in short supply (there are around 13,000 7-Eleven stores in the U.S., for example), there are only 46 Buc-ee’s locations in seven states (per the company’s website). That means, of course, there are 43 U.S. states with no Buc-ee’s. That is about to change, though. Here’s a look at the states where you can grab a brisket sandwich or some Beaver Nuggets, along with additional states that will soon house new Buc-ee’s locations.
- Buc-ee’s Locations: 1
A second Kentucky location is scheduled to open in 2024.
- Buc-ee’s Locations: 1
A second South Carolina location is scheduled to open in 2025.
- Buc-ee’s Locations: 2
A third Florida location is scheduled to open in 2025.
- Buc-ee’s Locations: 2
- Buc-ee’s Locations: 2
- Buc-ee’s Locations: 4
- Buc-ee’s Locations: 34
Three new Texas locations are scheduled to open in the next two years.
Buc-ee’s Texas History
Buc-ee’s founder Arch “Beaver” Aplin opened his first store in in Texas in 1982. The store only featured about 3,000 square feet of floor space. While it was a sizable convenience store at the time, future Buc-ee’s locations would have a footprint 25 times greater than the original store. Since “everything is bigger in Texas,” it should come as no surprise that the Lone Star State was the birthplace of the world’s largest convenience stores.
Aplin chose the store’s name in honor of his Labrador Retriever, Buck. Aplin’s longtime nickname, Beaver, gave rise to the store’s mischievous mascot. It was modeled after Ipana toothpaste’s mascot, Bucky Beaver. Some have mistakenly referred to Buc-ee’s mascot as a squirrel or gopher, but it is definitely a beaver. There is always plenty of beaver toys and swag available for purchase at Buc-ee’s. You can buy a plush beaver or a beaver shirt, shoes, hats, and so forth. Buc-ee’s beaver is so iconic that it even has its own fossil. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin named an ancient beaver species Anchitheriomys buceei. The fossil is about 30% larger than modern beavers, but otherwise the animal looked very similar to the beavers we know today. Since the fossil was discovered in Texas, the researchers named it after the most famous beaver in the state, the Buc-ee’s mascot.
While Buc-ee’s got its start in 1982, those first Texas stores looked very little like the U.S. interstate Meccas that millions of people know and love today. The stores didn’t begin rounding into their current form until 2003.
Future Buc-ee’s States
For about 37 years, Buc-ee’s locations were exclusive to Texas. That finally changed in 2019 when the Robertsdale, Alabama location opened off of Interstate 10. Four years later, Buc-ee’s is found in seven states, with seven more on the horizon.
Missouri’s first Buc-ee’s location is scheduled to open in December. The company also plans to open its first Colorado and Ohio stores in 2024. Louisiana will see its first Buc-ee’s in 2025. Virginia also plans to welcome two Buc-ee’s locations, one in 2025 and the other in 2027.
Proposals for new Buc-ee’s locations have also been submitted in Mississippi and Wisconsin, though timelines for these locations have not been released. Given the massive footprint of these stores and the large flow of traffic and customers, opening a new Buc-ee’s location is a time-consuming process that requires a significant investment in construction, infrastructure, highway ramps, etc. That is also why some communities don’t want a Bu-cee’s store moving in.
In 2021, residents of Efland, North Carolina pushed back against plans to construct a Buc-ee’s store, fearing that it would create traffic congestion and pollute a local protected watershed. Buc-ee’s eventually dropped its plans of constructing its first store in North Carolina.
These gigantic “gas-tinations” aren’t always welcome, even in Texas. In 2014, the city council in Corinth, Texas blocked plans to construct a Buc-ee’s in their community.
Many other communities, though, seem to have beaver fever. They are ready and willing to welcome Buc-ee’s, and the throngs of motorists who need a restroom, a full gas tank, and a brisket sandwich. The expansion of Buc-ee’s is unlikely to exceed its current pace, though. The company has stated that it will not franchise as a means of protecting the standards of cleanliness and excellence that customers have come to expect.
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