Should you really boast of clean bathrooms as a main selling point for your business? When you’re in the convenience chain industry, the answer is yes. Sparkling toilets are one of the reasons gas station Buc-ee’s has become a favorite stopover with a cult following across Texas despite having just 43 stores. (7-Eleven, by comparison, has more than 13,000.) Buc-ee’s locations are huge—one store exceeds 66,000 square feet—and full of everything from food (including their trademark Beaver Nuggets) to stuffed toys of its beaver mascot namesake. Keep reading for more on this unique travel center experience.
1. Buc-ee’s was created by a guy named Beaver.
After graduating from Texas A&M, Arch Aplin III decided to get into the family business of mercantile shops. (His grandfather, Arch Aplin, had owned one back in the 1920s.) Alpin acquired some property in Lake Jackson and opened the first Buc-ee’s in July 1982. The name came from his childhood nicknames, “Beaver” and “Bucky Beaver,” the latter of which was inspired by a cartoon character in toothpaste ads.
With partner Don Wasek, Aplin expanded slowly, opening the second Buc-ee’s in 1985 and letting word of mouth do most of the work. By 2003, many of the modern tenets of the store were in place, including ample parking, wide aisles, and a Texas-sized assortment of goods. Buc-ee’s soon became the “cool” convenience chain, with locations that were less pit stops and more travel centers.
2. Buc-ee’s boasts of the cleanest restrooms in the United States.
Pausing a road trip to use a restroom can be a gamble—some businesses might fail to maintain their facilities, while others could keep them closed to the public entirely. Fans of Buc-ee’s, however, often look forward to their bathroom experience.
In 2021, service supplier Cintas voted Buc-ee’s as having the cleanest public rest areas in the country. At some of the larger locations, like Bastrop’s 56,000 square foot facility, a team of custodians tackle the upkeep of 71 toilets and urinals as their full-time job. In addition to fastidious cleaning, the bathrooms typically feature large stalls and motion-activated toilets and hand dryers. The chain even attempts to take the anxiety out of public pooping, with illuminated Tooshlights that readily display when a stall is occupied.
That reputation also led to what might be the company’s best billboard advertising slogan: “Top Two Reasons to Stop at Buc-ee’s: #1 and #2.”
3. Buc-ee’s does brisk business with kolaches.
In addition to smoked meat and jerky, Buc-ee’s is renowned for kolaches, a Czech dish that wraps meat, cheese, or fruit in a pastry roll. AL.com notes that kolaches appear to be more popular with Texas Buc-ee’s customers than in Alabama.
4. Buc-ee’s is home to one of the world’s largest car washes.
Buc-ee’s prides itself on being a one-stop destination for anyone on the road and in need of gas, food, and a good scrub. The Katy, Texas, location boasts of having one of the world’s longest car wash facilities, with 255 feet of soapy path for dirty vehicles.
It’s not the world record holder, however. According to Guinness, the Katy location only held that designation in 2017. The category undergoes evaluation annually, and currently, Guinness doesn’t have a listing for World’s Longest Car Wash Conveyor Belt.
5. Buc-ee’s isn’t a fan of Bucky’s.
Texas may not be big enough for two Buc-ee-esque pit stops. According to The Houston Chronicle, in 2008 a Nebraska chain named Bucky's (which also goes by Bucks) brought legal action against Buc-ee's, fretting that Buc-ee’s would confuse shoppers by opening locations in that state. The parties parted amicably when they agreed their markets were separate. The fight was renewed in 2017 when Buc-ee’s returned fire, alleging that Bucky’s had no business operating in Texas. In 2018, a judge dismissed Buc-ee’s claim of trademark infringement.
Buc-ee’s also sued the operators of a chain dubbed Bukys in 2021. No resolution to that case has yet been reported.
6. Buc-ee’s employees have a dress code.
To work at Buc-ee’s, employees are expected to adhere to some basic appearance guidelines. Workers can’t show tattoos or body piercings; long hair for men is prohibited, as is colored hair. Phones are expected to be kept in a locker for the duration of a shift and there’s no sitting down. Those that conform can earn above-average hourly salaries and a 401(k), both rare for entry-level customer service positions.
7. You can buy Buc-ee’s snacks online.
Buc-ee’s is far too busy cleaning its restrooms to fulfill online orders in any official capacity, but one Texas college graduate is picking up the slack. In 2020, Chris Koerner started TexasSnax.com out of Plano, specializing in items exclusive to Buc-ee’s. Shoppers can pick up Buck-ee’s merch like blankets and shirts as well as delicacies like pickled quail eggs. The most popular item: Beaver Nuggets, a puffy, sugary corn snack. While Buc-ee’s has no formal relationship with Koerner, they don’t appear to object to his resale of popular items.
8. Buc-ee’s is going to get even bigger.
In 2022, Buc-ee’s announced plans to build what will be the biggest location to date: a 75,000 square foot location in Luling, Texas, that will replace a comparatively puny location first built in 2003. Travelers will be able to fuel up at 120 gas pumps. It’s expected to open in 2024. Until then, the biggest Buc-ee’s is in New Braunfels, which measures 66,335 square feet.