Buc-ee's Has Its Eyes on New Locations Outside of Its Home State

The Buc-ee's brand is a Texas institution but it wants to be other states' place to go to for gas, homemade jerky and Beaver Nuggets.
The Buc-ee's brand is a Texas institution but it wants to be other states' place to go to for gas, homemade jerky and Beaver Nuggets. Lauren Drewes Daniels
Many institutions that belong to Texas still have their regional differences: the Longhorns and the Aggies. barbecue from the Pecan Lodge and the Salt Lick.

One thing that's not divisive in Texas is Buc-ee's. The massive travel center chain with 38 stores across Texas is so beloved by travelers that it could qualify for a religious tax exempt status.

Buc-ee's is more than just a chain of souped-up gas stations with clean bathrooms. They are hubs for tourism, food, commerce and camaraderie. It's an event every time a new one opens in a new part of the state on par with a visit from Blazing Saddles star Burton Gilliam.

Fortunately, Buc-ee's openings are more likely to happen in your neighborhood and now it's happening in other states that aren't Texas.

The travel store chain got a six-minute feature on the last episode of the news magazine CBS Sunday Morning hosted by Jane Pauley. The end of the segment caught our ear because it noted that Buc-ee's owners Arch Aplin III and Don Wasek are planning to open locations outside of Texas' borders. The segment featured an interview with Aplin, also known to Buc-ee's staff across the state as "Beaver," talking about his store chain's auspicious beginnings in Lake Jackson in 1982 and its explosive growth into a roadside staple that people drive out of their way to get gas, a chopped brisket sandwich or a souvenir with the store's grinning, buck-toothed beaver logo on it. The Lake Jackson location is still open and is one of 17 in that sell ethanol-free fuel.

According to the chain's website, Buc-ee's already has two new locations each in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The company also plans to open six additional stores in other states like Tennessee and South Carolina.

Aplin told CBS correspondent Luke Burbank that the Buc-ee's chain is still privately owned by him and his very silent business partner, which allows them to take total control of their stores' procedures, policies and service quality. The chain not only pleases customers but also boasts a $15 an hour starting salary for every employee with full benefits and three weeks of paid vacation per year.

"It allows us total independence to do what we think is the best," Aplin said to Burbank, "and we don't have to answer to maybe a suggestion of how could we cut costs." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.