Popular Texas convenience store Buc-ee’s eager to expand into NC
(CHARLOTTE OBSERVER) - The popular Texas-based gas station chain opening its first South Carolina store this month confirmed the beloved cartoon beaver in a red hat will be popping up in North Carolina, too. But it’s likely to be several years out.
Buc-ee’s — known for its award-winning clean bathrooms, snacks and barbecue, and “friendliest beaver” logo — will open its first South Carolina in Florence on May 16. Another store will open in Anderson in three years.
The company is eagerly looking at sites across North Carolina, too. “But we haven’t purchased any property yet,” Buc-ee’s spokesman Jeff Nadalo told The Charlotte Observer on Thursday.
Most Buc-ee’s stores aren’t in urban settings but rather 40 minutes or more outside of major cities, Nadalo said, “on your way to take a trip.” So while cities like Charlotte and Raleigh aren’t likely locations, Buc-ee’s stores in the regions are still possible.
“We’re travel centers so we want to attract people who are traveling,” Nadalo said. “We cater to families and travelers who are needing a break from their travels or wanting to load up on snacks and freshly prepared items.”
Once a property is found, Nadalo said can take up to three years or more for a store to open. Last year, Buc-ee’s withdrew North Carolina plans to open a travel center with a 64,000-square-foot store in Efland, about 41 miles northwest of Raleigh, after encountering resistance from residents and Orange County Board of Commissioners wanting to scale the project down.
But Buc-ee’s isn’t the only popular convenience store and gas station expanding across the country. The Philadelphia chain WaWa — known for its custom hoagies, hot breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and soups and snacks — has plans to open its first N.C. stores by the end of 2024. Wawa also is looking for property sites, the Observer previously reported.
Buc-ee’s, with over 30 stores in Texas, has been expanding throughout the Southeast since 2019. Five stores will open this year and seven next year, Nadalo said.
The company recently opened or plans to open stores in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. Buc-ee’s also is heading West, opening its first Colorado store in Johnstown, about 45 miles outside of Denver, in 2024. Buc-ee’s, based in Texas, is expanding throughout the Southeast, including Warner Robins, Georgia (shown) and is looking at North Carolina.
Buc-ee’s, a privately-held company, opened its first store 40 years ago in Lake Jackson, Texas. The chain now has 42 locations, not including South Carolina, according to the company website. The 24-hour travel centers are typically about 53,000-square-feet with 120 fuel positions, Nadalo said. Each store hires a minimum 175 full-time employees with hourly pay from $18 to $22, depending on the region.
Buc-ee’s is more than a gas station, it’s a shopping experience, Nadalo said, with merchandise not found in most retail locations. There are homemade cookies, pastries and fudge, pickled quail eggs, candied jalapenos, barbecue spices and sauces, and walls of beef jerky and candy. Plus, private-label foods like the popular Beaver nuggets, “a very indulgent caramel-coated treat,” Nadalo said.
There’s also Buc-ee’s themed clothing, toys, home goods, and hunting and fishing gear and “beach stores” with swimsuits and towels at various locations. Buc-ee’s, mega gas station and convenience store based in Texas, is known for its barbecue, homemade fudge, jerky and Beaver nuggets (shown at the Warner Robins, Georgia, store).
And Buc-ee’s holds world records, according to the company website. It has the largest convenience store at 72,000 square feet in New Braunfels, Texas. However, the Sevierville, Tennessee, store will top that at 74,000 square feet when it opens next year.
Buc-ee’s also has the longest car wash with 255 feet of conveyor space. NBA great Shaquille O’Neal called Buc-ee’s one of his favorite stores.
“Buc-ee’s is more of an experience. It’s more than just gas and snacks,” Wes Harness, assistant general manager at the Buc-ee’s location in Calhoun, Georgia, told WVLT8 Knoxville. “So you know, we have a wide range of gifts that you can get ... anything you can imagine with a picture of a beaver on it.”
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