PIERRE, S.D. – It was the Great Depression and Ted Hustead (HYOO’-sted) had just started a business in a town that was said to be “godforsaken.” Customers were few, and times were tough. But Hustead’s marketing and the lure of free ice water turned Wall Drug into a booming business and welcome stop for travelers. For that feat, Ted Hustead is one of South Dakota’s Great Faces.
Hustead and his wife, Dorothy, opened Wall Drug in 1931. After five years of owning a suffering business, the couple came up with the idea of offering free ice water to travelers in hopes of increasing business. Hustead and a high school student made signs offering free ice water and posted them on the highway. Business skyrocketed in just one day. Wall Drug soon went from being a two-person operation, to having eight more employees the following summer.
Wall Drug remains family owned and continues to be a friendly, interesting stop for travelers from all over the world. It has been featured far and wide in newspapers, magazines and television shows and continues to use billboards to publicize free ice water. With a variety of attractions, including picture-taking props, train station water show and many different, one of the largest privately owned collections of original western art in the U.S. and a variety of shops, Wall Drug has grown tremendously from its modest start.
While at Wall Drug, hungry visitors can enjoy its famous donuts, nickel cup of coffee, buffalo burgers and, of course, free ice water.
South Dakota’s Great Faces weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight people who have had significant impacts on South Dakota, particularly in the visitor industry. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Faces” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.
Photo: Wall Drug has grown from a small drug store to a 76,000-square-foot emporium.
Information for this release was retrieved at Wall Drug.