The History Of This Iconic South Dakota Store Is Unexpectedly Awesome
You have shopped and eaten there more times than you can count. Their doughnuts are downright dreamy. If you have ever traveled to any other northern state, you may have even seen a sign advertising how many miles it is to this iconic place. You know where I am talking about: it’s the world-famous Wall Drug! While everyone knows about this magical SoDak institution, few realize its rich history, which is just as fascinating as the store itself:
The story of Wall Drug began in 1931 when Nebraska native Ted Hustead purchased the small and locally-known shop as a way to make his living.
Why a shop in Wall, South Dakota? Hustead and his wife chose the small community because it had a Catholic church!
In the beginning, times were tough, and the Husteads saw barely any traffic, which is when they resorted to their most iconic marketing campaign: advertising "free ice water" to weary interstate travelers driving to and from Mount Rushmore.
As luck would have it, "free ice water" did the trick for Wall Drug, which began welcoming more customers by the day, leading them to try out even more print and billboard advertising like "Get a soda . . . Get a root beer . . . turn next corner . . . Just as near . . . To Highway 16 & 14. . . Free Ice Water. . . Wall Drug."
In addition to their signs and billboards around South Dakota, signs for Wall Drug began popping up around the United States AND other countries, including one placed by Ted in the London Underground advertising that Wall Drug was only 5,160 miles away and that if they wrote, he would send them information on both the store and state.
At one point, the Husteads were receiving 12 to 20 letters and inquires each day!
Before long, it was time for Wall Drug to expand, which is when they moved into their famous 76,000-square-foot building that an estimated 2 million people visit each year.
What began as a humble pharmacy has morphed into a South Dakota institution that offers everything from restaurants and hot donuts to shopping and photo ops.
Before you ask, the answer is yes: you can still get free ice water (and 5 cent coffee!) at Wall Drug!
Wall Drug is open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
For more information, please visit Wall Drug's
Address: 510 Main Street, Wall, SD 57790
How many times have you visited Wall Drug Store? Did you know all about its fascinating history? Let us know in the comments! To learn even more about Wall Drug, check out
The Crazy One-Of-A-Kind Store You’ll Only Find In South Dakota.
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