This new Buc-ee’s will be the farthest north the Texas beaver has ever sold his nuggets

Buc-ee’s is continuing a nationwide building spree — this time near the capitol of Wisconsin.

Construction is expected to begin in May on a $20 million travel center just under 40 miles from Wisconsin Dells, a hotspot for tourists known for amusement and water parks and several state parks.

The 74,000-square-foot store will be north of Madison in DeForest, near Interstate 39/90/94, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Texas-based Buc-ee’s is still in the process of obtaining final approval to open the Wisconsin store.

Buc-ee’s is best known for having the “world’s cleanest bathrooms,” its private label products like Beaver Nuggets, and the beloved beaver mascot for travel center guests to stop and take a picture with.

Only a few years ago, it seemed unfathomable that yellow and red Buc-ee’s beaver signs would reach as far north as snowy Wisconsin. After all, North Texas didn’t even get a Buc-ee’s until a Fort Worth store opened in 2016. For many years, the privately owned company had kept its footprint largely south of Houston, where it was based.

But now the retailer appears to be on a building spree. There are Buc-ee’s stores coming to northern Colorado, the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, upstate South Carolina and central Ohio. Of the 46 stores now in operation, Alabama has four. Florida, Georgia and Tennessee each have two. Kentucky and South Carolina each have one, with second locations in the pipeline.

The first Buc-ee’s was a far cry from the sprawling 70,000-square-foot stores of today.

Arch “Beaver” Aplin III opened his 3,000-square-foot convenience store in 1982 on the border of Clute and Lake Jackson, about 90 minutes south of Houston.

At first, Aplin grew the brand exclusively in Texas, eventually opening about 30 locations and employing thousands of workers. Buc-ee’s opened its first travel center outside of Texas in 2019 in Alabama. Since then, the company has grown to employ more than 8,000 people.

Part of the secret to Buc-ee’s success is the chain’s expansion strategy. The company builds along major highways in high-traffic areas where the real estate is not at a premium, experts say. Its locations are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“Take that combination of service quality, product quality and convenience, and they would outrank any of their convenience store competitors,” said Gary Orosy, an adjunct professor of marketing at the SMU Cox School of Business. “Because it’s easy to get off and on the highway from a Buc-ee’s.”