Here’s Salena Zito, talking about the most famous highway pit stop in America:

Everything about Wall Drug, arguably the most iconic and long-lasting drug store in America, exemplifies a doggedness. It took persistence not only to survive but also thrive against insurmountable odds in a place few thought a small business had any business starting an enterprise in the first place.
In 1931, when Ted Hustead and his wife Dorothy were looking for a place to open a drug store, he told the local paper years later he picked the thinly populated town of Wall because the local doctor told them he’d give them all his prescriptions.
Despite all their hard work, though, most of their potential customers passed their little prairie town along the highway, rarely noticing the store.
The Husteads’ dire future all changed one hot summer night when Dorothy Hustead could not sleep. Irritated that the parade of cars along U.S. 16 was keeping her awake, she wondered how could they make all of those people at least stop at their store and maybe buy a thing or two.
Out of that mild irritation came a plan: Plant signs along the highway offering free ice-cold water to weary travelers. And not just any signs, but clever ones like the humorous Burma Shave signs that were famously posted all along small highways in the 1920s.
Her idea was both simple and genius. More importantly, it worked.
Within a year, they went from no employees to eight, and the signs went from a handful to hundreds of billboards. And today, Wall Drug is a 76,000-square-foot, multimillion-dollar slice of Americana where you can still get your prescription filled, but you can also get hand-crafted moccasins, divine homemade donuts, out-of-print books on the American West, cowboy boots, clothing, ice cream, western art, homemade pies, and bumper stickers. If they don’t have it, it’s probably not made.

I’ve been to Wall Drug.  And unless it’s fallen off the display, you can see my picture (along with thousands of similar ones) inside.

That was taken in September 2004, in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris.

By the way:  I bought some gun gear at Wall Drug, and when we stopped at the Cabela’s store in Mitchell SD, I saw exactly the same stuff — only priced about 20% higher.


  1. Sounds like a Northern version of Buc-ees. On the off chance that I ever visit that part of the country I’ll have to make a point of stopping in.

  2. I was there when I was in my teens. I probably only bought a couple of postcards. What I got the biggest kick out of was just wandering through the place – all the additions to the original building over the years.

    There’s a place in Las Vegas that brags it’s the world’s largest souvenir shop, but for all the square footage of souvenirs, I think Wall Drug has it beat. Gotta get back there.

  3. Stopped in there back in 2010 while on a family trip to Mount Rushmore. Bought Darlin’ daughter her first pocket knife there.

  4. If you ever travel down the eastern seaboard you can stop at South of the Border in SC.
    Their highway signs advertise such wonders as “Virgin Sturgeon”

  5. Headed to Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, and Deadwood in October.

    Wall Drug is on the itinerary 🙂

    The Wife amd I travel between Illinois and Oklahoma at least three times a year, and try to hit as much Americana as we can along the way. Would like to travel the entirety of old RT66 some day.

    BTW, should any of you be traveling I44 through Missouri and want a quick fun stop filled with cheerfully crude humor, check out the Uranus Fudge Factory on exit 163. Tasteless puns, hand made candy, and an indoor shooting range.

    If that doesn’t scream ‘Merica I don’t know what does 🙂

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