Wall Drug flourishes during tourism season despite pandemic
WALL, S.D. — Cities around the country have been handling the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways.
Businesses were temporarily shut down, and upon reopening for tourism season, have put safety measures into effect.
One city seeing a boost in tourism is Wall, South Dakota. Wall Drug is a famous tourist attraction that brings in around two million visitors each year.
Founded in 1931, the store built a following offering free ice water to thirsty travelers and has become a must-see in South Dakota. At the height of the pandemic, the store closed its doors for 70 days but reopened June 1 for the many tourists waiting to visit Wall.
“We’ve been traveling the Dakota’s just for fun, and you have to stop at Wall Drug, if you don’t, you can get in trouble I think,” said visitor, Frank xzarajdjizamtheopolus. “We just decided to come here, it’s an interesting spot. We’ve been here before with the kids when they were little and thought we’d try it again.”
As for business in Wall, it’s been great!
Like many towns around the country, stores and businesses continue to see more and more tourists getting out for the summer.
“I see a lot of people, they’re traveling from the east coast, just because of the situation in those places, but we have a couple more stores in Deadwood and we’ve seen more tourists this year than we’ve ever seen in the past year, so it’s been quite an increase,” said Anita Kirwan, the Manager at the Jackalope’s Corner.
“It’s been busy, we’ve been making up for lost time for sure, we’ve been seeing a lot of travelers come through and we are doing very well,” said Sarah Hustead, the Vice President of the Wall Drug Store. “We’re just so excited to be open and so excited to welcome visitors to Wall Drug this summer.”
While business is booming, stores have put restrictions in place to keep guests safe.
The dining rooms in the Wall Drug Store, for instance, have eliminated half of their seating to allow for social distancing, and of course, have required employees to wear masks and using barriers to separate cashiers and customers. While stores are thriving, employees are working hard to keep up with demand, and are happy to serve.
“It has been a bit challenging, there’s quite a bit of people coming since we opened up on June first, and then after that it’s just, boom like people are coming, which is good for the business,” said Bauline Besson, a Moccasin Buyer.
If you’re looking for summer fun, Wall Drug would be happy to see you.
“It has been wonderful to be able to get back to the new normal, and just welcome visitors back into the store, and we have customers that come every year, that maybe they missed being here, and they’re just so excited that we’re open, and especially everyone is really excited that our donuts are back,” Hustead said.