Buc-ee's Big Bend
Buc-ee’s art installation mysteriously appears in the West Texas desert
UPDATE: Visit Marathon, Texas announced via social media on April 8 that the tiny Buc-ee's art installation that garnered much attention this week has been removed: "The building still stands but all traces of its existence have been removed," the post reads.
Nearly 400 miles from the nearest Buc-ee’s location, a mini-homage to the beloved chain of convenience stores has sprung up in West Texas. So far, the creator of the art installation is unknown.
A tiny Buc-ee’s — with no gas pumps, sparkling bathrooms, or Beaver Nuggets — recently showed up in a remote spot along U.S. Highway 90 about 20 miles east of Marathon. It’s reminiscent of the permanent Prada store replica, dating back to 2005, that stands about 25 miles northwest of Marfa.
Executives at Buc-ee’s don’t have a clue as to who set up the tiny Buc-ee’s.
“Buc-ee’s just recently became aware of the Buc-ee’s art installation in west rural Texas. While we have not visited the site, we do wonder whether they are keeping up with Buc-ee’s meticulous 24/7 bathroom-cleaning standards,” Jeff Nadalo, general counsel for Buc-ee’s, tells CultureMap.
On April 2, Facebook user Jose Lujan, who studied at The Art Institute of Houston, posted two photos of the art installation. “Yes, it’s true we do have beavers in #bigbend #bucees,” Lujan wrote in a caption on his Facebook post.
That same day, San Antonio artist Matt Tumlinson posted a picture of the mini-Buc-ee’s on Instagram. Tumlinson says he snapped the Buc-ee’s photo April 1. He believes the new art installation is “a lighthearted jab at Prada Marfa and influencer culture. It might also be a commentary on brand loyalty and consumerism.”
Patrick Rivera, a tourism official in nearby Marfa, says folks there are just as puzzled as everyone else about how the mini-Buc-ee’s materialized. “We’re still learning about it ourselves!” Rivera tells CultureMap.
The Buc-ee’s replica bears a striking resemblance to a mini-Target store that mysteriously popped up in 2016 near Marathon then just as mysteriously was demolished in 2020. The art installation had evolved into an Instagram-worthy stop for West Texas travelers.
Lake Jackson-based Buc-ee’s, a cult favorite among Texans, was founded in 1982 and now operates 35 stores in Texas and seven stores in other states. Nadalo says the real Buc-ee’s store that’s closest to the West Texas replica is along I-35 in New Braunfels. That Buc-ee’s soon will lose its title as the world’s largest convenience store, as the company is building a bigger store in Tennessee.