WORLD GOLF VILLAGE, Fla. – The Texas-based chain known for operating the world’s largest convenience stores opened its first travel center in Florida early Monday morning.
Buc-ee’s carries a cult-following with it. The line outside the brand new store at World Golf Village began to form at 4 a.m. As the doors opened at 6 a.m., people were cheering as they walked through. At least two people excitedly ran inside the new store.
Kristi Gamble left her Orlando home about 1:30 a.m. not to miss being there when the store opened.
“We debated leaving even earlier,” she said.
Breakfast is served!!! @bucees @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/1ThRLwvwuG— Zachery Lashway (@ZachLashway) February 22, 2021
The new location on World Commerce Parkway in St. Johns County is 52,600 square feet and has 104 fueling positions.
Stores are usually split into the gift side, which features items such as clothing, home décor, sporting goods and more -- and the food service and convenience store side.
“What I love about it is, it has a little bit of everything,” said Texas native and now Orlando resident April Grotzinger, who was decked out in a Buc-ee’s onesie. “Florida is going to finally get this addiction, which is super fun. And I can’t wait to see what food items come out of the Florida-specific locations.”
Many people living in the area were concerned about how the gas station would affect property values. More than 2,000 people signed a petition opposing the development in 2019, citing traffic concerns and a worse quality of life.
Tukz Taca, a Jacksonville resident, said traffic could definitely be a problem.
“If it is managed right, it is going to get busy,” Taca said. “But that’s what development is for, it highlights this area right over here that it can be a stop -- as long as it is managed well.”
Jill Olsen, who lives just down the road, is even more concerned.
“I don’t know if the infrastructure with the roads is going to be enough around here. It is still a concern for a lot of people in this area,” Olsen said. “Right now it takes me to go four miles -- if I leave my house at 7 a.m. -- takes me 20 minutes to get to the highway. But I think if the county works hand-in-hand with the local businesses and takes the residents’ concerns into consideration, I think it will be a good partnership.”
That’s exactly what the Buc-ee’s expansion manager said.
“We’re going to partner with all of our neighbors. It’s a pretty exciting place to be,” Josh Smith said. “We have 200 to 250 employees that work full time here, that get to turn around and put that right back into the local economy, and they’re our best advocate.”