One is just south of the border as its name suggests between North and South Carolina, another is in South Dakota, and the last is all over the southern state of Texas but there is more than the south that brings these three together.
What do these have in common and how do they relate? Well, Buc-ee’s is to Texas what Wall Drug is to South Dakota and South of the Border is to well the border, but it is all about branding that makes them all popular tourists stops (or some might say traps.)
[If you are not interested in facts about these tourist destinations, scroll to end to see the connection on branding for our lives.]
Wall Drug attracts 2 million international visitors per year, no idea how many stop at South of the Border these days, and Buc-ee’s is your friendly ‘neighbor’ all over Texas with more and more visitors each day so who knows how many in a year.
They all have billboards advertising your arrival as you approach. Wall Drug has some 650 miles worth from Minnesota to Montana. Their gimmick way back when was free ice water and 5 cents for coffee as the new highway ran parallel to where they were located and needed people to come off. Now they have added free bumper stickers as free ice water is not a big deal these days and they still have 5 cents coffees.
South of the Border is described as a “Mexican themed resort and the brain child of Alan Schafer. Its mascot is Pedro, a Mexican bandido who actually was a bellboy that worked at the resort when it first opened. However, he was not named Pedro but he and his co-worker both Mexican were called Pedro and Pancho. One neat thing I learned from their website was that “The Sombrero Restaurant is located on the same spot as the original South of the Border Drive-In. Today, for a minimum donation of $20.00 to the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, you may get your name on an orange cardboard sombrero to be placed on the ceiling of the restaurant. South of the Border continues Mr. Schafer’s tradition of proudly matching every contribution. Many people have donated to this worthy cause over the years.”
Funny, as it started out as a simple beer stand since 2 counties adjoining were dry then turned into a diner and eventually the big mass of the “destination” it is today.
Oddly enough, you can even get married there!
Dozens of weddings are performed there every year. One package gets you married, a night in an “heir-conditioned” honeymoon suite (complete with champagne and a sombrero-canopied waterbed), and a free breakfast the next morning! Ready to sign up for that???
Yes, it is a tourist trap but worth a stop at least once if driving by.
Buc-ee’s claim to fame is having the cleanest bathrooms around and I can attest that it is true! It is a gas station/convenience store on steroids.. If 7/11 and Hobby Lobby had a baby this would be it. And think big – Texas big! But then again is there anything too big in Texas? There are up to 120 gas pumps including diesel at each location but sorry long haul truckers, you and your 18-wheelers are not allowed. Need a drink? Make your own or have a signature Buc-ee drink for 59, 69, or 79 cents. Feeling hungry? Try the beef jerky bar (think deli counter x3 gone beef!) a relatively new shop in New Braunfels is supposedly the largest convenience store in the world with 68,000 square feet of shopping! You can even get water gear to go tubing to enjoy at the nearby Guadalupe River. Now that is convenient! And all locations are open 24 hours per day, 365 days a year! Poor souls who have to work on holidays but who knows maybe they don’t mind. Buc-ee’s is also breaking ground in other states so maybe someday Buc-ee’s will become a household name all across the United States of America. Their #1 branded product is caramel and butter-glazed corn puffs known as ‘Beaver Nuggets’ (think Corn Pops cereal in snack form).
And like South of the Border and Wall Drug, they too have silly billboards to alert you of a coming exit to take to go and expedience Buc-ee’s that maybe should be known as the Texas Wal-mart!
They are all located an hour or so outside major cities and I was shocked on a Sunday afternoon the place was so packed that we almost could not find a parking space or pump for gas. But the staff is so efficient that lines move at the speed of light and having all those pumps meant no wait there too. I was impressed and will be back if ever I find myself again on a road trip through Texas. It seems they have marketed brand loyalty well. Some locations attract over 2 million cars per year. Thinking about opening up your own guaranteed success franchise? Well, if you have 17mil plus lying around, go right ahead and make owners Arch ‘Beaver’ Aplin III and Don Wasek proud. There motto when they opened in 1982 til now still remains: “Clean, friendly, and in stock.”
So there you have the low down on Buc-ee’s, Wall Drug, and South of the Border!
If the above left you desiring to learn more check out their websites:
They each have done well to make their names known.
That’s a whole lot of backstory to get to my point – how are you branding the Lord? Are you doing a good job in your life, home, and church to make Christ recognizable? If not, what can you do better?
I will leave you to contemplate that while I go munch on some yummy beaver bites which are my favorite Buc-ees treat. They are salty and sweet little cookies.
Now you go be the salt and light to the world (Matthew 5.13-16) and work on your branding so others always see the light of Christ in you. That is the way to …
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