Inside the success of Buc-ee's

How convenience store became Texas phenomenon

HOUSTON - It's bigger than a football field. Its walls are stacked high with goodies and you can find its beaver logo on almost anything you can imagine. But just follow travelers when they enter a Buc-ee's store and you'll find the one reason that likely gets them in the door -- the restroom.

"They're clean," said one male customer. "They have disinfectant. The paper towels work."

"They're just clean and awesome and they have lights to tell you when you can go in," a female customer said. "It's just a woman's dream."

KPRC Local 2 traveled to the largest mega-convenience store in Texas. It's the 68,000 square-foot Buc-ee's in New Braunfels, on Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Austin. General Manager Dan Parkinson said consistently clean bathrooms are the center of a business model that's making Buc-ee's boom across the state.

"We're on a quest to take over the world, one clean restroom at a time," Parkinson said. "Customers see that sign and they know that waiting inside for them are clean restrooms, friendly staff and awesome products. All you have to do to validate that is go inside anywhere else."

Buc-ee's all started in Lake Jackson when two different convenience store owners decided to merge. The name "Buc-ee" came from one of the owner's childhood dog. There are now 28 Buc-ee's stores across Texas. Buc-ee's large travel centers are located on almost every freeway road trip out of Houston.

"From the outside, I thought this was a Sam's Club or Costco or something," said a traveler from Minnesota. "This is a gas station! It's unbelievable."

Buc-ee's is the convenience store experience on steroids. Outside, it has 60 gas pumps. Inside, there are 80 bathroom stalls.

The store shelves are loaded with everything from barbecue to candy to kolaches. There's the great wall of popcorn next to the great wall of candy. Both walls filled with hundreds of different kinds of popcorn and candy. You'll find one-of-a-kind specialties everywhere across the store.

Of all the stuff you can buy, fan-favorite Beaver Nuggets are the best-selling item.

"It's an extruded corn product that is covered in brown sugar," Parkinson said. "It's full of highly-addictive substances."

It's seems anything with the famous Buc-ee's beaver logo has become addictive, too. Every imaginable piece of beaver logo merchandise fills up almost 25 percent of the store.

"I don't know what's caused all of that or what's created that buzz," said Parkinson. "I don't think we've seen any tattoos yet, but I think we're headed in that direction."

Buc-ee's just completed a large travel store in Bastrop. Crews are currently building two more stores in Waller and Texas City.

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