Businesses in DeForest are constantly evolving. Here are a few businesses in the area that were not here 20 years ago — Pick ’n Save, Walgreens, McDonalds, Culver’s, and Kwik Trip stores.
And here are a few businesses that are no longer around — Schultz Market, Ben Franklin store, 7E Supper Club, Norway Grove Store, and Ethun Agency.
Yes, business is always changing and this week I’m going to write about two places that I spent a fair amount of time at and spent a lot of money over the years. DeForest used to have two car dealerships — Grinde Motors Ford and Pulsfus-Johnson Chevrolet.
The two businesses were right next to each other on N. Durkee Street. Pulsfus-Johnson were in the building that is now BB Jack’s Restaurant and Bar and Jim’s Paint & Repair used to be the Grinde Motors showroom and garage. The used car lot for Pulsfus-Johnson used to be right behind their garage on Durkee St. The used car lot for Grinde’s was around the corner on Columbia Ave. When I was a teenager, I spent quite a bit of time looking through their used car lots.
The lead salesman for Grinde’s was Ed Ellingson. I bought my first used car from him and many others through the years. The service department manager was Kent Karow and the bookkeeper in the office was Duane Steimke.
At Pulsfus-Johnson the salesman was Clarence Pulfus, I bought a couple of new Chevrolet station wagons from him. The service department manger was LaVerne Johnson and the bookkeeper was Ed Johnson.
When I buy a vehicle I like to deal with someone who I know by their first name and they know me. I always received top notch personal attention at both local car dealers. I knew that I was more than just another name on their customer list.
Back in the 1950s and early 60s the smaller dealers had just a few new models to sell but they did not have a huge inventory of new cars. In most cases the customer could test drive the model that they were interested in and if they were pleased with that model, they would draw up a sales order with the dealer that was sent to the factory and the new car would be delivered from Detroit in a few weeks exactly to their specifications.
Each dealership was a great addition to the local economy. They were each housed in large buildings plus they had well stocked used car lots. Of course they paid many auto technicians to keep those cars maintained and running well. But things changed over the years and the Detroit auto makers were interested in developing big new dealerships in the cities and eventually the local small town car dealers were shut down.
Not all of the smaller dealers were shut down. If you are interested in buying a Ford or Chevy you just have to drive a few miles to the north and you have Johnson Sales Chevrolet on Highway 51 or Bell Ford in Arlington, and both will give you that good deal plus offer friendly small town service. I’ve dealt with both of them and can assure you that they are great people to do business with.
Dick Emerson is the former publisher of the DeForest Times-Tribune.