If convenience store competition in Northeast Florida were a poker game, the stakes are about to get raised. A big Texan is sitting down at the table.
Buc-ee’s, a Texas chain that is just expanding into Florida, plans a store and gas station on Interstate 95 near World Golf Village in St. Johns County. And the numbers are huge: A 52,600-square-foot store with 120 gas pumps.
You read that right: At 52,600 square feet, that’s a little bigger than a typical Publix or Winn-Dixie and eight or nine times the size of what Gate, Daily’s or Race Trac has been opening lately. The 120 gas pumps are about 100 more than most new stations.
The company has not responded to the Times-Union’s questions. But the pre-application filed with St. Johns County places the store on 13.71 vacant acres at the southwest quadrant of the International Golf Parkway and I-95, about 15 miles south of I-295.
A county spokeswoman said that Buc-ee’s will need to file construction plans and have those approved before being issued a building permit.
“That’s enormous for a convenience store,” said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, “but it’s not all that big when you look at Buc-ee’s. Some have gone as big as 70,000 square feet.”
Many of the chain’s stores are typical convenience store size. But it’s been increasingly moving to the mammoth ones, which it insists are convenience stores and not truck stops.
Last year, Bon Appetit magazine called Buc-ee’s the best rest stop in the country, raving about its brisket tacos and Beaver Nuggets, a caramel-coated corn snack.
Much of the store is apparently snacks, from every gummy candy imaginable to jerky to pickled quail eggs. But there’s more than that.
A writer for the Houston Press wrote, “I suspect it’s one of the few places on earth where you can buy pecan pie in a jar, a camo onesie, a glittery decorative vase and windshield wiper fluid all in one convenient location.
“I go to Buc-ee’s for the food, though.”