The Buc-ee's Backlash Begins (Finally)
The Heavens parted and we heard Angels singing...And on the eighth day, God created Buc-ees. And He saw that it was good.
-- Testimonial on the blog at Buc-ee's official Web site.
For what is, in the end, merely a chain of roadside truck stops that don't even allow trucks to stop, Buc-ee's and its maniacally grinning little beaver mascot sure garner a lot of fanatical devotion. Let's take a look at more of the testimonials on the Web site of the fast-growing Lake Jackson-based company with the famously gleaming bathrooms, which recently opened a mammoth, 25,000-square-foot emporium off I-45 in Madisonville.
"Better than Walmart and McDonalds all wound up together! Its a mini-Bass Pro Shop with a toy store for kids and adults lol!"
Tabitha, from "East Tx around Lufkin"
I stopped by Amy's Ice Cream in San Antonio and as I walked in....the counter staff yell "BUC-EE'S!" I got free ice cream: Ancho Chocolate and Chocolate Guiness.
Anonymous fan, who claims that wearing a Buc-Ee's T-shirt "opens doors."
"Seriously, I love this place so much that, if I weren't already married, I'd have my wedding there."
Dallas Morning News blogger Jacquielynn Floyd
Enough, says local blogger Lauren, the webmaster of architectural preservation website arch-ive.org. That's enough of, as she puts it, these "overemphatic declarations of love for all things Buc-Ee's."
Lauren, who doesn't want her last named used (perhaps from fear of reprisal from one of these beaver-crazed Buc-ee's acolytes), first came across the chain in Luling, at the flagship. "It wasn't bad," she says. "It wasn't busy. It didn't really leave a huge impression on me."
About a year ago Lauren made another visit. Little did she know how effective the company's relentless billboard, bumpersticker and t-shirt campaign had been since her last visit. And since the last time she popped by, the company had also expanded its inventory far beyond typical roadside fare like beer, jerky, smokes and ice. Now, the stores carry hunting knives, lawn furniture, barbecue pits and John Wayne memorabilia. To Lauren, the new and improved Buc-ee's seemed to her less an ordinary highway pit stop than some kind of sinister Den of the Increasingly Omnipotent Beaver.
"It was like, awful Armageddon have-to-get-me-out-of-here type stuff," she says, and compares it to walking into a Wal-Mart. "There was all this furniture for sale everywhere, and they were blaring this loud Christian music. There were zillions of people. I didn't even make it to the sparkling bathrooms 'cause I couldn't get to them. And I think that's the kicker for me -- the company gets people to excessively consume through the promise of sparkling toilets."
Indeed they do. As Lauren notes, one of their "creepy" billboards even promises "bathrooms so clean we leave mints in the urinals." (What does that even mean?) She was also disturbed by a testimonial on the Buc-ee blog that claimed that the cleanliness of Buc-ee's toilets was downright "evangelistic," in that it offered essential proof "that our innate knowledge and need for something bigger than us still beats within." In short, the author summed up, Buc-ee's shithouses "point our hearts to the reality of God's presence."
"That creeps me out," says Lauren, who is also alarmed by the fact that the stores keep popping up just past the outskirts of town, seemingly edging ever closer to Houston proper. "All this undying love for Buc-ee's. And no bad words about them anywhere...I can't find anything bad about them on the Internet. There's the Buc-ee's Facebook group [with almost 75,000 fans] and people taking their little stuffed Buc-ee beaver on vacation with them to the Taj Mahal. All for a truck stop with no trucks!"
Buc-ee's, for it's part, can take heart in the old rappers maxim: "You ain't nobody 'til you got haters."