Sell More Stuff: Think Big

Jan. 30, 2017

Think big! That’s a good idea. It can be a good thing for you professionally and personally. Our focus will be on the business aspects of thinking big.

We recently drove on I-35 in Texas, from Austin to Waco and back. We made three stops. Each one provided very powerful examples of how and why thinking big leads to success. Two places we visited are directly connected to our business – immediate consumption food and beverages. One is really different from what we do. Let’s save that one for last.

Just plain more

We had lunch at a convenience store. But it was not a typical c-store. We stopped at Buc-ee’s in Temple, Texas. It’s at exit 304 on I-35. Huge is an over-used word these days. It’s really applicable here. There are 112 gas pumps, their second largest store. If you’ve never been to a Buc-ee’s store, there’s a YouTube video about the Temple, Texas store.

They’re famous for having clean bathrooms. You can shop for fresh-made snacks, food and desserts. There’s an extensive selection of “traditional” convenience store snacks and beverages. You’ll find lots of t-shirts and hats. Walk around through rows and rows of “trinkets” from the inexpensive to well over $100. We used one the 112 gas pumps. We paid 10-15¢ per gallon less than the prices we found in the Austin area that same day.

 At Buc-ee’s they think big. Their stores seem to go on forever. Really clean bathrooms – something that is not true for all convenience stores. Fresh food and snacks are a big deal. It’s the place to see for lessons in merchandising.

We visited the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco. The Dr Pepper brand was born in Waco at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store. Two reasons to visit here. One, Dr Pepper is an iconic Texas brand and the oldest major soft drink brand. Second, my job there, in the ‘80’s was a fun and rewarding experience. One of the early brand slogans was “Drink a bit to eat at 10, 2 and 4.” They were promoting consumption at the peak times when people were likely to be thirsty. Another big driver of the brand’s success was the famous advertising campaign and theme song, “Be a Pepper.” It took some big thinking to take a small brand and position it for national expansion.

Our final stop was at the Magnolia Market at The Silos. Its creators, Chip and Joanna Gaines, achieved acclaim as the hosts of Fixer Upper on HGTV. As usual, you’re thinking ‘this cannot have any connection with my business.’ Take a lesson in how to think big from these entrepreneurs. Their fixer upper business, Magnolia Homes, began in Waco. Their personal charisma, design sense and creative adaptation of older homes makes for great television. They had a vision to go beyond their home remodeling business.

Their original store eventually grew up to be the Magnolia Market at The Silos. We were there on a Tuesday – between Christmas and New Year’s. The place was packed. People were having a good time. No one was stressed or upset that there was a big crowd meandering slowly through the store. When we checked out, we asked the cashier if it was always this busy. She said that it looked like a typical Saturday. 

By the way, they offer food and beverages. They have a bakery – Silos Baking Co. It was in a small building and the line was out of the door. There are also food trucks around a large courtyard with a partly covered patio seating area. This is the place to be in Waco. It is another example of exceptional merchandising.


It pays to think big. These are three uniquely different examples of how shrewd brands focused on thinking big. They found new and creative ways to be recognized and to establish loyalty among their customers. Buc-ee’s runs great stores. They’re known, renowned in fact, for their clean restrooms. Dr Pepper created a personality for the brand – you can “Be a Pepper.” Chip and Joanna Gaines went far beyond simply remodeling homes.

Look at your business. What do you do better than the completion? What can you do better? How can you think big to increase sales and drive profitable growth? After all, it comes down to selling more stuff.