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Making a difference: Furnitureland in Pulaski

‘We’re going to keep putting our name behind Pulaski’

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November 14, 2023

Qiie0cjNol4PULASKI – Since its inception in 1963, the heart of Furnitureland (located at 322 E. Pulaski St.) – which was started by Doug McDermid and Russel LaRock – has always been in the Village of Pulaski.

“My dad (Doug McDermid) began to work at (WG&R),” Mary Wichmann, co-owner of Furnitureland, said. “Russel LaRock was the manager of that store.”

When WG&R decided to leave its Pulaski location, Wichmann said McDermid and LaRock made the decision to open their own furniture store.

“Neither my dad nor Russ wanted to move – they had started their families here in town,” she said. “They decided to incorporate and begin their own business, (which they called) Furnitureland, in 1963.”

Many things have changed since then, Wichmann said, such as a change of sole ownership over to the McDermid family and a move to a larger location.

What’s remained the same, however, she said, is Furnitureland’s beliefs in supporting the community it, too, calls home.

“I think from its first founders on through our current generation, (Furnitureland has) always been a ‘do what you can to help the people around you’ (business),” she said. “It’s been ingrained in us that you take care of the people in your town.”

Wichmann said Furnitureland has donated to local food pantries, churches and St. Vincent de Paul, and has worked with organizations and fundraisers such as GRIT 920 and Coats for Kids, respectively.

Looking after Pulaski
Located on Pulaski’s main drag, Wichmann said the company holds the village close to its heart and does what it can to help.

The type of giving and help Furnitureland provides, she said, depends on what each group needs.

GRIT 920, which helps individuals with varying abilities train in a safe environment, is one of the organizations Mary Wichmann said Furnitureland donates both money and time to. Photo Courtesy of Furnitureland

“We continue to work with St. Vincent de Paul, giving them some older furniture… so they can in turn continue to sustain however they do in their business,” she said. “I remember when there were floods and different things where people were in need, and if we had anything we could donate, we loaded it up on a truck and got it somewhere.”

For other causes, such as Coats for Kids – which is organized by WBAY-Channel 2, the Salvation Army and other sponsors – Wichmann said Furnitureland offers deals to customers who bring in jackets.

“We offer a $100 discount if they bring in a coat,” she said. “We try to generate some excitement and urgency to get folks in to donate if they can.”

Once the business finds out what kind of coats are still needed after customers donate, “we go out and purchase what we can and donate ourselves.”

As the furniture company looked for more ways to support the Northeast Wisconsin community, Wichmann said Furnitureland got involved with GRIT 920, an organization that helps individuals with varying abilities train in a safe and inclusive environment.

“We have been behind them, (like) fundraising to build their new building, (and) we continue to help them gather donations and give them what we can so they can purchase different equipment,” she said. “And both of my sons – one in particular – donates his time to be a trainer or coach for those students. He’s also on the board directing the GRIT program.”

Aligning with the company
When it comes to giving back, Wichmann said it’s important the organizations Furnitureland supports match the business’s values or have affected employees in some way. 

An organization that hits close to home, she said, is the American Cancer Society.

“We’ve had some cancer in our family,” she said. “When Pulaski would have a Relay for Life, we were always involved with that – that lines up on a personal basis for us.”

Other institutions Wichmann mentioned previously, such as St. Vincent de Paul, also align with Furnitureland’s belief in giving to people in need if you are able.

“If you are in a position where you can, you should (give),” she said. “That aligns with everything I think we’re about.”

As a resident of Pulaski herself, Wichmann said the team at Furnitureland also believes in promoting the community they call home.

Pulaski Polka Days, one of the largest events the village has each year, is an event Wichmann said Furnitureland financially supports because it benefits the community. 

“Why not support one of the largest fundraisers (in) our local community… and get people out there?” she said.

The heart of being family-owned
Furnitureland being family-owned, Wichmann said, is the backbone to the company’s passion for giving back.

“All of the families that have been involved with Furnitureland through the years are born and raised in Pulaski,” she said. “You want to make sure you are not just a business, but you are part of the community.”

From its inception, Mary Wichmann, co-owner of Furnitureland, said the family business has always been focused on giving back to the Pulaski community, where the business resides. Photo Courtesy of Furnitureland

And though Furnitureland may be smaller than larger furniture stores out there in a place to give more, Wichmann said the hometown business is still mighty.

“A larger company, they can do more and they have more dollars, but sometimes the reason to do it is more to put your name out there,” she said. “I think our (reasoning) is more, ‘let’s do it because it’s the right thing to do.’”

Wichmann said what may be considered smaller causes or organizations still need to be taken care of.

“It’s not just the big-big things,” she said. “(We) do a lot of the little things that maybe others aren’t going to do and others aren’t going to take care of as well.”

As Wichmann reflects on 60 years of the family-owned business, the second-generation owner said she hopes to see 60 more years of Furnitureland supporting Pulaski. 

“We’re going to keep helping where the help is needed,” she said. “I think we’re going to keep putting our name behind Pulaski, and that it’s a great little town and that’s why we’re here.”

To learn more about Furnitureland, visit

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