The credenza in the back of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van groaned as Lars Balderskilde drove through the woodlands near Vejle, Denmark, a city on a fjord about 2 1/2 hours from Copenhagen.
It was late January, and after passing a lake filled with swans, Balderskilde stopped at a house where he picked up an old bar cabinet that he paid for in cash. Then came stops at other homes to collect nesting tables and a mirror. The sun had set by the time he met Nina Toft and Grethe Kock, two sisters, at the home of their mother, whose funeral they had hosted earlier that day.
“It’s always emotional, but you have to let go,” Toft said to Balderskilde, who had come to look at various pieces in the house.
Kock showed him a tiny clay bird that she had made as a girl. “I’ll give you a good deal,” she said, jokingly.
Balderskilde did not take the bird. But he did fill the van with a teak dresser and bookcase the sisters’ parents had owned since the 1950s, a desk, a blue PH 5 pendant lamp and a Le Klint 325 floor lamp, a model originally designed to decorate a residence of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr. He paid the sisters $1,800 for the items.
Toft and Kock had contacted Balderskilde through a website where he offers to buy furniture from people all over Denmark. While lugging the pieces out of the house, Balderskilde told Toft, “I have a boutique in New York.”
The store, Lanoba, is actually in Jersey City, New Jersey, and sells refurbished Danish modern furniture, a minimalist style originating in Denmark that was typically made with natural materials like wood, leather and Danish cord from the 1930s through the 1960s.
Balderskilde, who is Danish, and