Grow Your Business with Signage: The Wall Drug Story

Jul 21, 2021 | Exterior Signs

wall drug building sign

Everybody loves to hear success stories about starting out from nothing to becoming something special. These days, it’s possible to grow a business from the ground up but you must have a strong presence online in addition to selling a product or service that people need or want badly enough to pay for it. Not so long ago, however, businesses relied heavily on word-of-mouth and traditional forms of advertising to expand. Recently, one of our team members took a road trip across the U.S.A and stopped at a unique attraction that exclusively utilizes signage as their main form of advertising. This is the true story of how signage helped to grow a seemingly simple business into an incredible success!

Use a Simple Message to Inform and Direct

Wall Drug Store, located in Wall, South Dakota, was established by Ted Hustead in 1931. It was just a small drug store located in a small town, but that all changed when Ted’s wife, Dorothy, had the idea to advertise free ice water to passing traffic along the nearby highway. “FREE ICE WATER at WALL DRUG” is all they had to write on their first sign to have thirsty customers line up to beat the relentless South Dakota Summer heat. After realizing that their signs were working, they started erecting 100’s of billboard signs along the highway to draw in customers. With a simple message, Ted and Dorothy were able to inform their audience of their offerings and direct them to the right spot. If you happen to be driving along the desolate stretch of I-90 that goes right past Wall, you absolutely can not miss seeing at least one of their signs!

wall drug billboard collage

Quirky Signage for a Quirky Place

Over time, the signage advertising Wall Drug brought in more and more people from all over the country – eventually all over the world. With the quirky signs working perfectly to bring in the customers, Wall Drug needed an upgrade. Ted and Dorothy’s son, Bill, took over the business in the 1970s and turned it into a sprawling mall complete with a gift shop, chapel, rock shop, restaurant, milkshake bar, numerous photo-ops, an 80-foot-tall dinosaur, an impressive art gallery, and lots of animatronic singing creations that have traumatized the children of weary tourists for many, many years. Along with the free ice water that is still (and always will be) available, Wall Drug also sells 5-cent cups of coffee!

wall drug store billboards

Simple Signage + Placement + Patience = Success

The amazing thing about Wall Drug is how well they’ve sustained their success and embraced the notoriety of their brand even if it is ridiculous. With around a million people flocking to their flagship store every year, you’ve got to admit that they must be doing something right! So, how did they do it? Probably lots of reasons, but their outdoor signs were a hugely important piece of the puzzle. The signage guiding you to Wall Drug is simple, funny, and placed strategically right off of a busy highway. As you’re driving along the highway you almost get annoyed by all the Wall Drug signs, but that’s how they reel you in. Even if you don’t stop the first time you drive past, the next time you’re in the area and you see one of their signs, you know that you’ve got to stop and check it out! Finally, and most importantly, the signage had to stand the test of time. Patience is an easy thing to talk about, but the act of patiently letting the signage do its job is not an easy thing to accomplish in this fast-paced modern world – but it can work!

Signage Should Work 24/7/365

Exterior signs have an important role to play in the big picture show of running a successful business. They can help your brand to reach new leads, remind those leads of your services, and direct and inform your new potential customers of where and how to find you. Make sure that they’re working for you day or night, in any kind of weather, and during your peak season and off-season. Ensuring that they do their jobs correctly means partnering with a reputable sign company – and you’re reading a blog written by one of the best in the biz! Contact Connecting Signs today by calling us at 970-493-0133 or request a quote for your outdoor signs by clicking right here!

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