We’ve all seen the bumper stickers and billboards, but really, what the heck is Wall Drug? In 2013 Erin and I stopped by to find out.
Wall Drug is a 76,000 square foot amalgamation of Drug Store, gift shop, department store, museum, restaurant, and amusement park in Wall, SD, just north of Badlands National Park. Started in 1931 simply as a drugstore, the first 5 years for Wall Drug were hard, but in 1936 the owners, the Husteads, put up signs along the highway advertising free ice water. Next thing they knew, Wall Drug was hustling and bustling with thirsty travelers on their way to Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone and elsewhere. And it’s grown ever since.
Wall Drug offers just about everything under the sun, and admission to the madness is free. Mainly consisting of different retail stores, offering everything from souvenirs to refreshments to Native American artifacts, there are also other attractions like an arcade, a ‘Train Station Water Show’, photo ops, and mining & panning, among many other things.
Wall Drug has defied the odds, turning the middle of nowhere into one of the world’s leading tourist attractions by offering things for free (admission, ice water, coffee, donuts, bumper stickers), which is usually the exact OPPOSITE of what you want to do in retail, but they made it work and they made it work BIG TIME.
Wall Drug is a definite must see. Even Erin, who is bored at every Old West stop I take her to, enjoyed Wall Drug. There’s absolutely no reason to miss it.