A Great Convenience Store And A Great BBQ Restaurant – With Lessons For Our Business

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 1/28/2019

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  Paul Schlossberg
Wouldn't it be great to take a few days (especially for me) to shop and eat at Bu-cee's? After that, wouldn't it be even better to check off one of the great Texas barbecue  restaurants? We just did that. It was a lot of fun with some really good food.

You probably know by now that Buc-ee's is one of my favorite convenience stores. The Buc-ee's in New Braunfels, Texas is just off I-35. There are 60 gas pumps and 67,000 sq.ft. of floor space. At 67,000 sq.ft. that would usually describe a reasonably big supermarket.

What they sell can be described as "everything." Maybe that's overstating it, but not by much. My sense is that roughly half the store is food, snacks and beverages. That's what we sell, too. They obviously have a much broader range of choices for shoppers to select from.  

One product stood out for me. They were selling a bottle of 2009 Dom Perignon Champagne for $149 – you read that correctly – a renowned champagne being sold for $149 in a convenience store. That display was on the left side of the entry to the restrooms. They can be reasonably sure that this display will get lots of attention. Virtually everyone who goes to a Buc-ee's will use the restrooms. There are roadside billboards advertising that Buc-ee's is nearby and that the restrooms are really clean. This link takes you to one of their more well-known and humorous billboards.

These folks really know how to sell immediate-consumption food, snacks and beverages. They have big displays and lots of eye-catching displays. There are some photos posted nearby for you to get a perspective of what they sell and how they merchandise it.

At Buc-ee's we purchased a sliced brisket sandwich for $5.99. The meat had a nice smoke ring  and a delicious barbecue taste. The sauce was somewhat sweet – which my wife prefers. We also purchased a 32-fl.oz. fountain drink for 69¢. Gas prices at Buc-ee's were a bargain. It was $1.78 per gallon on our first day in the area and $1.79 the next time we were there.

We have a list of about 20 great barbecue restaurants here in Texas. Since we moved back to Texas, we've been to six, so far. Each visit has been for lunch and well worth our time and money. Once we had to wait in line for 90 minutes before we were served.

It's important to recognize that there is great BBQ to be had all over the U.S. There are different styles and taste preferences across the country. It comes down to what you prefer and finding local places to satisfy your BBQ appetite.

Lockhart, TX, is pretty close to being barbecue heaven with three outstanding barbecue restaurants in town. This was our second time there. Black's Barbecue has been in business since 1932. Depending on which "best of" list you read, Black's is at the top, or close to it, among Texas barbecue restaurants. There are some photos posted nearby. The sign about giant beef ribs is true. On their menu it says: "Each bone is 9" long with about 2" of flavorful marbled beef piled on top. Each rib will weigh about 1 pound." The price is $17.99 per pound. We also ordered a whole barbecue chicken for $10.99 and had it quartered. That chicken was a taste and texture delight.

We took home almost two-thirds of what we ordered. They offer nine different meat selections. My estimate is that lunch that day cost us less than $10 each considering what we took home.

Is there a "so what" to this blog posting? You might think it's about enjoying interesting places to eat. That is certainly true. But there is more to it than just that.

Think about how you can bring something better to your shoppers. The best way to figure out how to do that is to shop and eat at the best places you can find locally. As you can see from what we ate a Buc-ee's and Black's, it does not have to be outrageously expensive to enjoy really good food.

Focus on upgrading everything you sell and everything you do. How can you get better products to sell to your shoppers? That means find new and different indulgent products and healthier ones too. What should you do to merchandise more dramatically and more effectively? Start thinking about new ways to answer those questions and you'll take another step on the path to selling more stuff.

Champagne at Buc-ee's
 Food on display in a gondola at Buc-ee's
Lots of cooler doors at Buc-ee's
Order kiosks at Buc-ee's
Hunting stuff section at Buc-ee's
More merchandise on display at Buc-ee's
They are not kidding about the giant beef ribs at Black's Barbecue
Outside Black's Barbecue in Lockhart, TX
Promotional signs on the wall above the deli at Buc-ee's 

» Paul Schlossberg is president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX, area, he can be reached at Paul@DFWConsulting.net or (972) 877-2972 or www.DFWConsulting.net.