Wall Drug (510 Main St., 605/279-2175, www.walldrug.com, June–Aug. daily 6:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Sept.–May daily 7 a.m.–5:30 p.m.) is the ultimate roadside attraction. Occupying over 76,000 square feet, Wall Drug sells all the tacky tourist paraphernalia your heart could desire, and the backyard is home to unlimited photo opportunities—including a giant jackalope saddled up and ready to ride; a roaring, smoke-spewing T. rex; and piano-playing, cymbal-clanking stuffed animals galore.
But all is not plastic and tack at Wall Drug. The complex is divided into several small shops. A fine art gallery sells paintings, art prints, pottery, and bronze sculptures, and there is a great little bookstore with a fine collection of regional books. Look for Western clothing, leather goods, a rock shop, camping supplies, a jewelry store, donut shop, espresso bar, and a restaurant. And, there is a drug store. Coffee is still 5 cents and ice water is still free.
Wall Drug still uses highway signs to advertise their offerings. The scope of their placement has expanded along with the store’s success. Today you can find signs advertising free ice water at Wall Drug along the highways in many outlying states, including Colorado and Wyoming. Ever visionary, there is even a Wall Drug sign in a London Underground station. And yes, even there the advertising was successful. Curious Londoners have called the store asking about the signs, and some have come to visit!
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition