The founder of Buc-ee’s, the renowned Texas rest stop chain that announced last month it is opening its first store outside the Lone Star State in Baton Rouge at the Greens at Millerville, says the location is ideal for several reasons.
“It’s on the interstate, it has the traffic, it has the employment base, and it has LSU, which is a great college town and a great college experience,” says Arch “Beaver” Aplin, who opened his first Buc-ee’s in Lake Jackson, Texas, in the early 1980s, naming it after his pet dog, Buc. “It has everything we wanted. We’re excited about bustin’ into Louisiana.”
Busting is an apt word choice. Buc-ee’s makes a splash wherever it opens, with huge convenience stores that average between 60,000 and 80,000 square feet and promises of having the world’s cleanest restrooms. The local Buc-ee’s outlet, which will be located on the north side of Interstate 12 at Millerville Road, will include more than 60,000 square feet of retail space and 90 gas pumps on 15 acres.
If everything remains on schedule, Buc-ee’s should open in the second quarter of 2017.
Aplin, who created the bucktoothed beaver that is Buc-ee’s mascot, says the company has long pondered expansion outside of Texas and that I-12 made more sense than I-10 because of its higher passenger count of eastbound travelers.
Buc-ee’s bills itself as a destination for the motoring public and targets families—it’s not a truck stop. Semis or tractor trailers aren’t allowed. Aplin says market research has shown travelers will plan road trips around stops at Buc-ee’s, and he is confident the store will bring new visitors to the Baton Rouge area.
In keeping with its playful culture, Buc-ee’s typically advertises on billboards as far as 100 miles out from a Buc-ee’s location. Once the Baton Rouge store is open, Aplin says billboards as far away as Mobile, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle will remind travelers that if they’re planning to drive through Baton Rouge, “save your stop for us.”
Buc-ee’s also plans to target Livingston Parish commuters, who drive the heavily trafficked corridor daily between their bedroom communities and the city.
“Commuters lack an excellent, fresh hot cup of coffee or a sandwich,” he says. “Commuters like the spacing we have and how we’re so well lit. There is no question the commuters will appreciate what we hope to bring to Baton Rouge.”
Once the Baton Rouge Buc-ee’s is under construction, which is expected to happen later this year, the company will turn its attention to a second Louisiana location, likely on Interstate 10 near Lafayette. Aplin believes that area is underserved and ripe for a Buc-ee’s outlet.
“But it’s very premature,” he says. “We just know we’d like to be there.”
The Planning Commission must first sign off on Buc-ee’s plans for the property. The commission will take up the matter at its meeting later this month. If approved, Buc-ee’s will close on its acquisition of the 15 acres with Greens at Millerville developer Windy Gladney.