You’ve heard of it, perhaps seen ads for it, but I guess few of you have been to the actual place: Wall Drug. The story of Wall Drug is a lovely tale of tenacity and business success through creativity.
Wall Drug is a drugstore in Wall, South Dakota. Wall is a tiny town, along I-90. Back in the ’30s the Husteads had bought the little drugstore in Wall, starting a family and a business at the same time. Business wasn’t going well, the Depression didn’t help, and they were seriously considering leaving town, when Dorothy Hustead had the idea that was to turn the business into a major success. To lure customers from the road into their little store, why not offer them free ice water, which in the summer heat would be enticing enough. And why not advertise this on billboards along the highway?
So began the advertising campaign that made Wall Drug famous, and which continues to be copied today. Of course, Wall Drug is no longer a small drugstore, but an absurd shopping mall, including an art museum and a chapel.
They still serve free ice water and 5 cent coffee, and of course we have to have some of both. To prove that the strategy still works, though, we also have a slice of pie.