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Wall Drug

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Collection Summary

Title Wall Drug
Span Dates 1941-1978
Bulk Dates (bulk dates, 1950-1977)
Quantity .5 linear ft.
Printed Material Printed Materials are located in Box 1.
Location     Archives and Special Collections, University Libraries, University of South Dakota.

On December 31, 1931, Theodore (Ted) and Dorothy Hustead used money they had inherited from Ted’s father to purchase a drugstore in Wall, South Dakota. Wall, like most small Midwestern towns, struggled to survive during the Great Depression. Business was scant in the town that has been called the “geographic center of nowhere.”

In July 1936, Dorothy Hustead had an idea how to bring more customers into the drug store. She suggested advertising free ice water to lure the drivers who were undoubtedly thirsty from driving across the oppressively hot prairie. The customers would sit to have a cold glass of water and hopefully buy something else. At the suggestion of Dorothy, Ted modeled some signs after the Burma Shave advertising concept and posted them along US Highway 16. The advertising worked immediately, and people were pulling off the highway to take advantage of the ice water.

Since 1936 Wall Drug has expanded to become a world-famous stop for tourists traveling to the Black Hill-Badlands region. It has also become an advertising wonder, marketing the normally “unmarketable.”

Through its world-renown advertising Wall Drug still continues its popularity today. Signs advertising Wall Drug can be found not only across the United State, but also around the world. Wall Drug now draws up to 20,000 customers during the tourist season.

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