SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On Monday, January 10, City Council heard the first reading on a proposal that would bring Buc-ee’s travel center to Springfield.
The 53,000-square-foot travel center would be located at I-44 and Mulroy Road. The ordinance would establish a plan to reimburse the Buc-ee’s company for about $4 million of the estimated $8.5 million in improvements the company would have to complete to make the location suitable for development, according to the proposed ordinance. Those improvements include a new public road and more utilities in the area.
Buc-ee’s is a corporation that operates more than 40 such travel centers in multiple states, mostly in Texas and the southeast United States, according to its website. At a Springfield city council meeting, a representative for the Texas-based chain called it the “Bass Pro of the convenience store world.” Buc-ee’s has been in operation since 1982.
Why should Buc-ee’s come to Springfield?
This project is going to take a serious amount of money to make it a reality. So, what are the benefits of Buc-ee’s coming to Springfield?
- New sales tax generation
- Good wages
- Open additional land for development
According to Sarah Kerner, director of economic development, Buc-ee’s has an estimated 6 million customers annually and 88% of customers travel more than 20 miles away to visit Buc-ee’s. The store also has an estimated annual taxable sale of $30 million.
The travel center is estimated to employ 175 to 225 full-time employees and Buc-ee’s minimum wage starts at $15-$17.
“We have raised the bar,” said Stan Beard Buc-ee’s Director of Real Estate. “We are not a pull-in and a buy one thing store. We are a pull-in and ‘Oh my god, I just spent $150 at Buc-ee’s’ store. We are family-oriented and family-friendly. And because of that… people come from far away to shop at Buc-ee’s.”
According to City Manager Jason Gage, Buc-ee’s is known for its large stores, specialized merchandise, and clean bathrooms. Buc-ee’s will become a tourist attraction for Springfield.
“The reason we’re successful is we pay more. The reason we are successful is we know that our employees are the face of Buc-ee’s. So when you walk into a Buc-ee’s, you hear ‘good morning, welcome to Buc-ee’s.’ And it’s not somebody on their phone behind the counter. It’s somebody who’s interested in you being there,” Beard said.
Beard also stated that Buc-ee’s will “sell your town” and will have collectible items only available in Springfield.
“It won’t just be Buc-ee’s,” said Beard. “It’s going to be the Springfield Buc-ee’s. And we’ll have shirts that say it. We’re going to bring a whole lot of folks into our doors.
If the council approves the incentive at their Jan. 24 meeting, Buc-ee’s will seek another $4.4 million of reimbursement through a special sales tax placed on the geographic area in and around the store. Beard said the chain hopes to break ground sometime this year and finish construction 12 to 15 months after that.