TEXAS CITY — The Beaver is ready to go.
The 69,000-square-foot Buc-ee’s Travel Center in Texas City is set to open today. City officials said it is the most anticipated business opening since Tanger Outlets two years ago.
Crews were busy Tuesday preparing the store for opening and going over last-minute training. The store, at Interstate 45-South and Holland Road next to Tanger Outlets, is the first “beach store” concept, co-founder Arch “Beaver” Aplin said.
Buc-ee’s Texas City’s General Manager Shawn Humpert said staff of 202 workers trained for more than a month for today’s opening.
“It is really exciting to be part of this because Buc-ee’s is so special and known worldwide,” said Humpert, who co-managed several of Buc-ee’s other “big stores” in preparation for managing the Texas City operation. “It is more than a store, it is a cultural experience.
“In my travels before coming to work for the company, I would always tell people ‘when you come to Texas, you have to stop in a Buc-ee’s.’”
Beer + burgers = Buc-ee’s
The stores are such a phenomenon that Texas City Mayor Matt Doyle brokered a deal that offers Buc-ee’s owners a sales-tax rebate for the next 20 years to help pay for the construction and improvements to the property.
Doyle lured the company here after Larry Del Papa, president of Del Papa Distributing Co. — which supplies much of the region with Budweiser beer products — and one of Buc-ee’s biggest vendors set up a meeting between the mayor and business owner.
The two men agreed in principle on the deal over burgers at Beyond Burger in Texas City a few days later, Doyle confirmed.
The store features the usual Buc-ee’s standards, lots of gas pumps, plenty of ice machines and an abundance of checkout counters.
There’s an ice-making machine on site capable of making 10 tons of ice each week.
There are, of course, Buc-ee’s famous super-clean bathrooms. The sign above the entrance reads “World Famous” because of the company’s insistence on keeping them spotless around the clock.
Day at beach
The Texas City store also features something no other has, Buc-ee’s Beach. There is no sand but plenty of beachwear, beach supplies and lots of fishing gear.
“We want people to know that whatever you need for the beach or for fishing, we have it,” Humpert said. “And we are talking some of the best gear anywhere.”
Because of the addition of the Buc-ee’s Beach section, the Texas City store has 200 new vendors compared to others across the state.
Those vendors include Galveston-based apparel company Saltwater Soul, Bayou Vista fishing lure company Chicken Boy Lures and Baytown-area based Tidal Surge Lures.
There’s also plenty of high-end fishing gear, including Waterloo fishing rods and Yeti coolers.
The store has a definite Gulf Coast feel to it. Employees wear shirts that read, “Always Buc-ee’s before Beach.” The same shirts can be found for sale, along with “Beaver Approved,” Buc-ee’s Beach Gear shirts, bathing suits, beach towels and a wide assortment of beachwear for all budgets.
There’s Buc-ee’s Bait Shack with eight freezers filled with an assortment of frozen bait.
Better pay, more smiles
Heather Geiselhart, 19, of League City is one of the staffers who will be stationed in the fishing section of the store. She says she will use her former sales experience at Academy Sports and Outdoors to help fishing customers who may stop in while headed to cast off in Galveston Bay or in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I was real excited to get a job here,” the Clear Springs High School graduate said. “I am saving for college and (the company) will work with you on your schedule so I can work and save up for college.”
Dickinson resident Samantha Emerson, 22, is an avid angler and said the job fits her perfectly.
“The people here are very friendly, and it’s a great atmosphere to work in,” she said.
Humpert said a friendly atmosphere is the key to Buc-ee’s success. That’s why they pay more per-hour than competitors.
“We look for people with a positive outlook,” he said. “People for whom a smile comes easily to their face.
“We are all about fun and want the customers to be a part of this unique experience.”
Humpert said he expects big crowds, but didn’t know how many people will flock to the store on the first day.
It was estimated that more than 10,000 people came to the New Braunfels store — the company’s biggest — when it opened two years ago.
By the numbers
Buc-ee’s Texas City
Size: 60,627-square feet
Customer capacity: 1,387
Buc-ee’s Bait Shack: 8 freezers of frozen bait
Parking lot: 539,000 square-feet
Parking slots: 701
Fueling station: 31,000-square feet
Gas pumps: 56
Ice vending machines: 43
Checkout counters: 20
Women’s stalls 28
Men’s urinals: 34
Men’s stalls: 13