300 plus billboards drawing you to a drug store in a small town in South Dakota
As you travel around America, especially the mid-west you’ll come across billboards advertising the Wall Drug Store. These billboards are located, in some cases, hundreds of miles from the store itself mostly along a 650 mile stretch of I-90. Apparently, there are more than 300 paid for billboards, some located internationally, and a whole load more unofficial billboards.
The store itself has become a popular stop off point for people traveling through South Dakota or visiting the local attractions such as Badlands National Park or en route to Mount Rushmore.
Wall Drug Store is located in the small town of Wall, South Dakota. It’s beginning was very humble. In 1931, at the depth of the Great Depression, Ted Hustead and his wife, Dorothy, bought the only drugstore in Wall with the $3000 he’d inherited from his father. To begin with business was bad. They gave themselves five years to make a go of it and when 1936 came around they were about to give up when Dorothy had an idea that would change things forever. During a hot summer’s day Dorothy noticed all the cars passing on the highway (this predated the Interstate) and surmised they’d be gasping for refreshment. So, they created some signs offering free ice water and set them up on the highway. The rest is history as the Husteads turned free ice water into a million-dollar idea with a little determination, quick thinking and a lot of signs. Today, more than 2 million visitors a year stop at the popular roadside attraction for a meal or activity, 5 cent coffee, and ice water – which is still free. Things have grown a bit since the store opened in 1931, with the selling space having grown to 50,000 square feet.
We are suckers for a good marketing campaign and have made the turn off I-90 at Wall to visit the drug store every time we’ve passed by.