Buc-ee’s Is Not “Too Damn Big.” It’s the Exact Right Size.

Travel Features gas stations
Buc-ee’s Is Not “Too Damn Big.” It’s the Exact Right Size.

As a Texas travel writer I often find myself on ever-stretching highways crisscrossing the broad shoulders of my great state. While there is a certain comfort that comes from an endless dashboard of wide open spaces, a nice break to stretch the legs and get something cold to drink is always appreciated. Usually I have to stop at some wayward gas station with sticky floors and broken-down soda machines, but if I am lucky a Buc-ee’s will sprout up on my route. And when it does, it feels like striking gold. 

So low and behold when I saw that my very own editor, a Mr. Garrett Martin, penned an entire article about the fact that in his opinion Buc-ee’s was “too damn big”, I was flabbergasted. Too big? Is that even possible?

Yes, at first glance, Buc-ee’s might seem over-the-top, like nothing more than a gimmicky marketing scheme with zero substance behind it. But I assure you it is not. If you take a second to look around you will see that any preconceived perspectives about it being nothing more than a quirky roadside attraction are simply wrong. And once you begin making Buc-ee’s a regular part of your road trips, you may even stop to thank a higher being of your liking for the opportunity to be born into the exact moment of time and space that allowed for the existence of something so awe-inspiring as a Buc-ee’s. 

For those who do not know, Buc-ee’s is a Texas-based chain of convenience stores. And yet to describe Buc-ee’s as merely a convenience store is like describing the Statue of Liberty as merely a sculpture. Both are symbols of hope, of a momentary respite from a grueling journey, of the American dream come to life. Sure, Buc-ee’s might not have the global recognition of Lady Liberty, but just as her torch held high in the air is a beacon of hope to weary travelers, so too is the logo of the buck-toothed rodent in a red hat.  

Buc-ee’s holds the world’s record for the largest convenience store (the newest one in Tennessee clocks in at 74,000 square ft.)  and another for the world’s largest car wash (at 255 feet) and Mr. Martin’s main complaint is that Buc-ees is too big. Too big? 

When the Empire State Building emerged as the world’s largest tallest building, did people complain that it was too tall? When the Brooklyn Bridge was built as the world’s longest bridge, did people complain that it was too long? When the Hoover Dam was built as the world’s tallest dam, did people complain that it provided too much electricity? 

The size is the point. Buc-ee’s is the complete embodiment of our mantra: “Everything’s bigger in Texas”. It is a testament to those who not only dream big, but to those who have the audacity to go out and build their big dreams. Do we need 200 pumps at a gas station? Of course not, but the larger-than-life approach reflects the state’s boldness, ambition and an unwavering commitment to stand out.

Mr. Martin also complained that Buc-ees was akin to Kmart selling nothing but junk food and t-shirts. I can not speak to what is sold in Georgia, but off the interstates here Buc-ee’s has taken it upon itself to gather all the riches from the vast expanse of the Texas culinary landscape in order to satisfy every possible gastronomic whim one might have on a road trip. There are no dried out pizza slices sitting for hours under a heat lamp or microwavable burritos. Instead one can find BBQ meat slow-smoked for hours over wood in the store’s smokehouse, an in-house tortilla maker patting down the freshest tortillas to roll a breakfast taco, rows of sweet and savory homemade Czech Kolaches and fudge made fresh in store everyday. 

In addition to freshly made food there is 20,000 square feet of candies, chips, trail mix, cheese cups, meats, nuts and cookies. There are “Beaver Nuggets,” which are neither nuggets nor have anything to do with beavers, but are caramel-coated corn puffs that straddle the addictive line between salty and sweet. There is an entire Wall of Jerky as well as pickled quail eggs, banana pudding, sausage on a stick, and even freshly cut up vegetables for those who do not understand the point of a road trip. 

And for all this, you need space. Does Mr. Martin wish we throw all 31 flavors of jerky into a cheap corner bin and watch as weary travelers hunch over wildly searching for their favorite flavor in hopes to snatch it up before another person elbows them out of the way before they have a chance to wrap their hungry fingers around a pre-dinner snack? Of course not. We live in a dignified society and as such we are accustomed to certain niceties like a 20-foot by 20-foot Wall of Jerky that lays out the spice level of each bag in a gradient manner starting with teriyaki moving toward lemon pepper and ending with ghost pepper. We are not savages. We like to give people the time and space to contemplate if they really are ready to try kangaroo or rattlesnake jerky or if they should just stick with good old beef jerky. 

If what you know is a four-aisle gas station with eight pumps and a continuously out-of-order bathroom, by all means who am I to stop you from leading a mediocre life. If you have never needed a 10-minute break from fellow car passengers to wander aimlessly through isles of beaver-themed adult onesies and signs that read “If Cats Could Talk They Wouldn’t” in a walking meditation of sorts, who am I to tell you otherwise. (But it’s impossible to get in and out of a Buc-ee’s in less than a half hour!—Ed.) If you think an armada of impeccably clean bathrooms is not worth the vast square-footage they require, that is your business.

But here in Texas we pride ourselves on magnitude, on the sheer expansiveness of our landscapes, on our larger-than-life persona. So next time you are passing by a Buc-ee’s stop by and you likely agree with me that Buc-ee’s is not too damn big. It is Texas-sized. And that, Mr. Martin, is just about right.

Jennifer Simonson is a travel writer by trade and a lover of the world’s food, cultures, drinks and outdoor spaces by nature.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin