The Legacy of Rattlers'

2004 was a pretty good year in my life, and one of the things in that year was the fact that the intersection of Holleman Drive and Harvey Mitchell Parkway, not far away from where I lived at the time, had a large lot torn up for a large gas station with what appeared to be a Wendy's and space for a large convenience store. It was called "Rattlers' Country Store" (later just Rattlers') and was decorated with corrugated metal on the inside as well as a complete convenience store selection. It was the first I had seen of the store and they quickly began cropping up elsewhere in town as it was a new brand out of a local company that owned Exxon stores in the area, though the Rattlers' here was a Shell. As I later found it, it was the first Rattlers' store to be built from the ground up (#7), and as the years went on, Rattlers' would continue to expand in the greater Texas area in the "Texas Triangle" between Houston and Austin. Rattlers' wasn't anything special, it was a convenience store with its own charm but for a long time was the only "real" convenience store in town. Corner Store hadn't really found its own identity yet (besides, there weren't any in the market), brands like "Handi Stop", "Zip'N", and "Max Food Mart" were all just fairly generic stores without much differentiation between them, and major stores like 7-Eleven and Circle K had fled town many years before.

Rattlers' never had a memorable foodservice department or special items but they were clean and well operated, and also for a number of years, operated as contract stores on the Texas A&M University campus where they operated with a modified merchandise mix. They seemed to operate almost everywhere, and as the years went on, Rattlers' just seemed to get bigger and bigger, with new stores in small towns. Rattlers' just seemed to be getting bigger and bigger, and they even opened their own self-branded store in south College Station in 2015 (store #19). Rattlers #20 was an acquired store in Victoria, Texas.

However, it was not to last. In spring 2016, it was announced Kolkhorst Petroleum was selling the Rattlers' chain to Sunoco, and by extension its subsidiary Stripes. This I wasn't too happy about, as I always felt like Stripes wasn't as good as Rattlers despite heavy expansion before and continuing into Sunoco's ownership. The purchase even ended up having #7 and a recently-built Stripes with Laredo Taco Company competing across the street with no oversight. In a bizarre twist, one year later before the Rattlers stores were even "officially" rebranded as Stripes (still lacking features like Stripes' "Slush Monkey" drinks instead of ICEE), it was announced the whole convenience store division of Sunoco would be sold and converted to 7-Eleven. I was a fan of 7-Eleven in the early 2010s and maintained that Slurpees were superior to ICEEs but the news hit me out of left field. There had been 7-Eleven stores in Bryan-College Station (quite plentiful, in fact) but they sold out many years ago. Now, with the two TETCO stores that had been Speedy Stop, 7-Eleven could once again thrive again in my town. But that would mean that Rattlers as I knew it would be completely gone in favor of a homogenized gas station that could be found virtually everywhere else. The 14 stores I determined are listed below, as the Victoria article probably included the acquired Whistle Stop as the 14th as well as the Corpus Christi store would make 14, as of the 21 numbered stores, La Grange had the rebuild (so 20), the three defunct A&M stores were excluded (17), the stores that closed prior to 2008 and were never Rattlers (#1 and #5, so 15) and the short-lived Somerville store would indeed make 14.

In January 2018, Sunoco completed its sale of its convenience stores to 7-Eleven. As of this writing, Rattlers, as a brand, still exists, even if the stores are Stripes in all but name. With the news that Sunoco is selling its convenience store brands to 7-Eleven, it likely means that the Rattlers stores will be converted to the 7-Eleven name instead of changing signage to Stripes. You'll notice #15 isn't listed as it seems to overlap with #4. None of the stores that were sold to 7-Eleven were divested, but the former Whistle Stop in Victoria closed anyway. Additionally, as of August 2018, the stores (at least #3) STILL don't have Slurpees, even though other Stripes stores did, though they are starting to carry 7-Eleven products.

#AddressCityOpeningSold to Stripes?BrandFoodNotes
1Not listed in 2008 directory??No?--
21701 East Washington AvenueNavasota?YesExxon--You'd think it was #1 seeing as how it's across from Kolkhorst Petroleum and all, but...
3891 North Earl Rudder Fwy.Bryanbefore 2003YesExxonWendy's
42409 Texas State Highway 71La GrangeYesExxon--This was a rebuilt gas station from another store (pumps new, convenience store old). Listed as #4 in the 2008 directory but many other say #15. Did they renumber when the pumps were rebuilt in the mid-to-late 2000s?
5Not listed in 2008 directory??No?--
61806 South Blue Bell RoadBrenham?YesShell--Appears to be a former Exxon, likely acquired from other operator, also appears in listings as 1804 S. Horton (same road)
72050 Holleman Drive WestCollege StationDecember 2004YesShellWendy'sFirst store to be built as a ground-up Rattlers, I remember that Dec. 2004 was the date they said it would be open. It became a Sunoco in February 2018, despite already being transferred to 7-Eleven technically. Ironically, the Stripes across the street (built with Exxon gas) was never converted to Sunoco.
82401 East 29th StreetBryan2007YesExxonBurger Kingnew-build
91703 Highway 105Brenham?YesExxonSubway(?)appears to be an acquired store
109009 Highway 290 EastChappell Hill2008?YesShellBurger KingFor some odd reason, I find that this store is listed as #8 in a few listings
11233 Houston StreetCollege Station2009?NO--One of the A&M locations, contract ended around 2013-2014. Located inside Sbisa Dining Hall.
12676 Lubbock StreetCollege Station2009?NO--One of the A&M locations. Listed as being in Brenham in a few listings. Converted to a generic convenience store around 2013-2014 and later removed entirely in renovations. Located inside The Commons.
13309 North Travis Ave.Cameron2009YesExxonPizza InnUnfortunately, Pizza Inn has since closed.
1417393 Highway 36 SouthSomervilleNO?Valero?--Possibly renovated from former Mobil from garage but appeared to be gone by 2013. The locator from 2013 has it but never seemed to be actually branded AS Valero.
16322 East Main StreetBellvilleSpring 2011YesValeroKrispy KrunchyKrispy Krunchy just appears to be a counter inside.
17426 East Austin StreetGiddings2013?YesValeroBurger KingThis was converted to Sunoco by 2017.
18?200 University DriveCollege Station2013NO--One of the A&M locations, contracted ended around 2013-2014. Located inside Hullabaloo Hall.
191780 Greens Prairie RoadCollege StationMarch 2015YesRattlers--The last Rattlers store ever built and the only one with a self-branded gas brand (if briefly) before being turned into Sunoco (shortly after acquisition).
208501 N. Navarro St.VictoriaSeptember 2015YesValeroBurger KingFormerly another convenience store chain, Whistle Stop (store retained name even under Stripes). CLOSED as of May 2018.
2114333 Leopard StreetCorpus ChristiSeptember 2015YesValeroBurger KingFormer Whistle Stop

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