The World’s Biggest Store

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

The World’s Biggest Store

February 2, 2016

Mount RushmoreWhen you’re driving through the middle of nowhere, you’re always glad to find a rest stop — either to grab a snack, or to pee after holding it in forever. Any gas station or store will do. But nothing beats Wall Drug. Located in Wall, South Dakota, Wall Drug may very well be the world’s biggest single store. Hardly anyone lives there: back when Ted Hustead bought the place in 1931, the town had only 231 people, and even today it has only 876. But lots of travelers drive by on their way to Mount Rushmore, the mountain with American presidents’ faces carved into it. So about 2 million people visit the store every year. It has 76,000 square feet of space, and you can buy just about anything there, not just snacks: lawn chairs, slingshots, sleeping bags, sleds…and of course, you also get to say hi to the 80-foot-long model dinosaur standing outside. Those are all great reasons to visit, even if you don’t need to pee.

Wee ones: There are billboards (signs) for Wall Drug from as far as 500 miles. If they have billboards in Montana, Minnesota, and both North and South Dakota, how many states is that?

Little kids: If at Wall Drug you buy 3 slingshots, 4 birthday cards and a birdcage, how many items did you buy?  Bonus: If instead you buy 6 pairs of cowboy boots and a hat, now how many items is that, counting each boot separately?

Big kids: If the number of visitors this year was just 1,000 times the town’s population of 876, how many visitors would that be — and how do you “spell” that number in digits?  Bonus: Wall Drug became famous by giving away cups of water to thirsty tourists, and now serves about 20,000 cups every summer day. How many cups do they serve in a week?

The sky’s the limit: If there’s a billboard 256 miles from Wall Drug, then each billboard after that is at 1/2 the distance until 1 mile away, how many billboards will you see in total?




Wee ones: 4 states.

Little kids: 8 items.  Bonus: 13 items.

Big kids: 876,000 (876 thousand).  Bonus: 140,000 cups.

The sky’s the limit: 9 billboards, at 256, then at 128 miles, 64, 32, 16, 8, 4, 2, and 1 mile.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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