Wall Drug

Sage Creek campground is only about 20 miles from one of our Must-Sees in South Dakota, Wall Drug. We figured to keep the truck and trailer hitched up, visit the little town with the big store, and maybe boondock Tuesday night somewhere on the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Spring days are longer up north and we got an early start.

The town of Wall has a tourist center, a Grasslands Ranger Station, several gas stations, a Harley shop, a few places that try to look like Wall Drug on a smaller scale, and Wall Drug. The big store became famous in the early 1930’s for its free ice water and 5 cent coffee. Kat was hungry and after seeing those big pecan rolls, I was too. We ordered a pecan roll and a couple of coffees. The java was okay for South Dakota, but the roll could have used help from a microwave. It was too cold to melt the butter that came with it, still but pretty good, if sticky as rubber cement. The place has maybe 30 restrooms making the clean up convenient.

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I like the décor. It’s heavy on western themes. Hundreds of cattle brands burned into 1x6x12 pine blocks adorn the walls along with hundreds of western themed American paintings. (Think imitators of Frederic Remington or Charles Russell.) Rifles that had belonged to various members of the Hustead family hanging high fit right in. The furniture would remind you of Cracker Barrel surplus, and the menu, while not ambitious, featured big-city prices. Their busy season remains a few weeks off, and the place was occupied to perhaps 5% of capacity.

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And then there’s their inventory. Wall offers some quality stuff – boots and jeans mostly – but nearly everything else is kitsch. It’s as if a secret shopper went through hundreds of Love’s, Stuckey’s, Cracker Barrels, selecting the cheesiest items, and then acquired a Chinese supplier of knick-knacks. Hard candy, cheap t-shirts, cowboy nuts, stuffed jackalopes (rabbits with horns), and on and on. Wikipedia says they do ten million in sales every summer, and I’ll wager the cost of those sales is six, not seven figures.

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Kat and I no longer consider Wall Drug a must-see. Been there and done that. You should feel free to give it a pass.

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