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Daytona Buc-ee’s to break ground Sept. 16

The wait is over. Buc-ee’s is finally set to break ground in Daytona on Monday. The mega gas station and supermarket-sized convenience store will be the largest in Florida.

DAYTONA BEACH —Turns out, the wait won’t be as long as expected: Buc-ee’s will break ground here Monday for what could be the largest gas station/convenience store in Florida.

A ceremony to mark the start of construction for the planned 120-fueling position gas station and 53,000-square-foot travel convenience center will take place at 10 a.m. on the northeast corner of the Interstate 95/LPGA Boulevard interchange in Daytona Beach.

The announcement comes after Buc-ee’s spokesman Jeff Nadalo acknowledged in an interview in late July that the project might not break ground until the summer of 2021 because of delays in obtaining the necessary permits from the city.

“Sometimes things come in sooner than expected,” said Nadalo in a phone interview Tuesday. “We just got all the necessary permits and approvals.”

The Daytona Beach location will be the first to break ground in Florida for the chain, which also plans to add stores in St. Augustine, in the World Golf Village area, Fort Myers and Ocala.

The 53,000-square-foot Buc-ee’s “travel convenience center” and 120-fueling position gas station is expected to open in early 2021 and will include a car wash as well as room on the 35-acre property for other stores and/or restaurants.

Buc-ee’s first announced its plans to build a store in Daytona Beach in April 2017, saying at the that it expected it to open in 2018 as the chain’s first location outside of Texas.

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Buc-ee’s: The Path to World Domination

Beaver Aplin built the quirky convenience chain into a Texas empire. Will his tactics translate outside the state?

About a century ago, in central Louisiana, in the town of Harrisonburg, the seat of Catahoula Parish, Arch and Mae Aplin opened a general mercantile store. The Aplins sold everything—dried goods and leather shoes, medicine and cotton shirts, cuts of beef and hammers and nails—and their store was successful, in large part because of its location.

Harrisonburg sits on the western bank of the Ouachita River, and back then the town was a hub for travelers. If you were heading east to Mississippi or west into the Louisiana Hill Country, you had to traverse the Ouachita, and the ferry that docked at the bottom of Main Street in Harrisonburg was one of the only ways to do that. The Aplins’ store stood on Main Street, just inland from the ferry. No one crossing the river in either direction could miss it.

But the Aplins didn’t just want customers of convenience. They took pride in their store. They called it Arch Aplin’s Biggest Little Store in Catahoula Parish, and they offered travelers products they couldn’t get anywhere else. The Aplins stocked turnip greens they’d harvested on their farm, and they sold syrup they’d made from their own sugarcane. Arch raised cattle and hogs, and he’d built a smokehouse on the family property to cure the meat he produced. It became famous throughout their corner of the Deep South.

“It was so good that the salesmen coming from Alexandria, Monroe, and Natchez, Mississippi, they’d put their order in for so many hams and so many pounds of sausage,” Arch and Mae’s son Arch Aplin Jr. remembered.

Arch Jr. was born in 1925, and he was more or less raised at the store. His mother nursed him in the back room when he was a baby. He worked there as a kid. And as a young man, when he’d returned home from the Pacific after World War II, he helped his parents run their business.

Aplin at his first store, in Lake Jackson, a week after it opened in 1982.

On July 28, 1982, Arch III opened his store at 899 Oyster Creek Drive, right where it crossed Old Angleton Road. Early on, he decided he’d need a good name and a good logo, something he could build on. The logo wasn’t ready by the time the store opened, but he’d already commissioned it. It would be a cartoon riff on his nickname since childhood, Beaver.

The name of the store, too, drew inspiration from his life. When Beaver was a kid, one of his father’s colleagues called him Bucky Beaver, after a cartoon character featured in Ipana toothpaste ads. Beaver had also had a beloved hunting dog, a Lab that he named Buck. The nearby high school in Brazoswood had the Buccaneers as their mascot. It all added up.

“I think you’ll see it’s the nicest, prettiest store around. It’s very sharp looking,” Aplin told the Brazosport Facts on the store’s opening day. “I believe everyone who comes in will be in awe over the way it looks.” He made clear his ambitions were bigger than that one location. “If this one goes like we hope it will, you never can tell, we might have a chain of Buc-ee’s.”

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