Mileage: 372 miles
Route taken: Interstate 90 exit at
first sign for one of
There is 56 miles between the two cities and I counted 67 signs for the drug store, though I am certain I missed a couple.
The ads are crude, with no thought to design and phrases that would make a first-year marketing major cringe. They have been on farmlands for years, grandfathered in after a state law was passed years ago allowing advertising only in commercially zoned areas.
The company says it spends a few hundred thousand dollars a
year on the signs, but they are all over the world, including
The ads are definitely effective in
The ads work on you in a relentless way, much like a bully poking you in the chest. None of the individual jobs bring pain, but collectively provide punishing pain.
There are several businesses that use the same advertising philosophy around the country, though not to the degree that Wall Drug does.
One of those places is South of the Border in
The fluorescent green, yellow and red signs bombard you as
you travel south from
Wall Drug actually began the advertising campaign during World War II. A friend of owner Ted and Dorothy Hustead put signs up overseas and soon GI’s were requesting the signs and putting them up all over Europe.
It was Dorothy who began the ad campaign in this country. The drug store she and her husband had bought in 1931 was struggling and one day after being awoken from a nap by cars going by the house, she put out a sign advertising soda and offering free water.
The idea worked, tourists on their way to
Now the store is a $10 million operation and gets more than two million tourists every year. It has grown from the small drugstore to a more than 75,000 square foot complex complete with restaurant, gift store, outdoor recreation area, and art gallery. It is more than 75,000 square feet.
The attraction pulls many off the highway on what is a boring
stretch of Interstate, breaking up the monotony of a 400-mile drive
An 80-foot dinosaur greets you and the main street and stores replicate an old Western town.
It has been my experience that the more signs an attraction offers the more of a tourist trap it is and often it is disappointing.
Wall Drug, though, is harmless fun, if you don’t go in expecting a lot. Ted Hustead, who died in 1999, had a saying that he didn’t want to make a lot of money from a few people, but a little money from a lot of people.
It appears he has succeeded. He got $8 from me for a
cheeseburger, fries and a soda. It was food, so I ate it and it gave me
energy to continue down the Interstate until I reached
This highway I have been on before and I know there is little to see, but there is one spot that is breathtakingly out of the ordinary.
It is before the town of
The cop clocked me at 85, but it was probably closer to 90.
It was the weirdest encounter I have had with a cop. He made
me sit in the front seat of the car while he wrote a ticket. He didn’t
me for speeding, he got me for my handlebars being too high and since
It was a whopping $20 and doesn’t go on my driving record, so the cop did me a favor by not giving me the $79 speeding ticket.
After I left him, I got gas and continued doing around 90
down the interstate. I got to