Scandinavian Antiques: Anatomy of a European Shipment

IMG_4344By Jon DeStefano

Henrik Follin began a business journey some thirty years ago when he was just 19 years old and it has led him to America and to developing one of the finest antique furniture businesses in the country, Scandinavian Antiques. Henrik is a very good businessman. He explains, “95% of what we have here is brought in from Europe.” On the second floor of the main building they have a workshop where they do refinishing, stripping,waxing and sometimes painting. They also do a lot of custom work including making tables, bookcases and wall units right at the shop.

This shipment, 222 pieces in all, is primarily from Denmark and Sweden, with a few French pieces, a few German pieces and a few from England. There is a lot of furniture: sofas, secretary desks, and tables mostly formal stuff and, of course, original oil paintings.

IMG_1624The shipment trip usually takes six to seven weeks from start to finish and Henrik does about four to six shipments per year. Henrik explains, “There is a lot of cheap furniture out there that does not last very long, but today people understand that if you buy quality antique furniture it will last you many, many years. The most important thing is to have the highest quality goods. our success rate is very, very high. People know that when they purchase our furniture it will last so our repeat business is very excellent.”

Behind the main showroom they have a storeroom and above it the shop, 12,000 square feet in all. Next to the store they have the 5000 square foot warehouse packed to the ceiling with European antiques not ready for the showroom yet.

The furniture they get from Europe needs to acclimate to the climate. Europe is very moist in comparison to Colorado so the furniture needs to dry out and then be restored, stripped, waxed, refinished or repainted. “Whatever it needs,” he explains, “It starts in our warehouse then goes to our workshop and finally it is ready for the showroom or the customer to take home.”

IMG_1618One of the reasons for their success is that each piece is hand selected by Henrik and then is hand-restored to be a functional piece. So it isn’t good enough for it to be just beautiful it must also be functional and durable.

“It also means that sometimes you find a table that is too high,” he explains. “They need to be 30″ high so we have this great piece that doesn’t work so we cut it down so it becomes functional. Some pieces are too short to be a regular table, we may cut it down to be a coffee table. It must have functionality.”

He continues, “We usually have to restore every single piece although we sell an occasional piece unrestored. We have five people who do all our restoring and we also do a lot of custom restoring. The restorations are generally major, due to the quality. The construction must be strong so it is useable and will last. And then we must finish it properly, wax and shellac or polish or paint, every piece must be restored so it can be used and is of the highest quality.”

“Our job is not to make it new but to create it so that it can be used in a purposeful way daily and last as if it were new. It takes us at least a month to get a shipment ready for our customers.”

The warehouse is packed to the ceiling waiting for people to buy or for the pieces to be restored. Every day, people come to the warehouse to find a hidden treasure and they buy them and return time after time. The warehouse is organized so people can easily find what they want. It is packed in four layers high.

The main store holds over 12,000 square feet of restored, finished, and pristine pieces. They take a unique piece of furniture and restore to its original integrity and beauty. Scandinavian Antiques is one of the finest antique furniture businesses in America and at affordable prices.

Located at 1760 S. Broadway, Scandinavian Antiques is open Monday to Saturday, 10 to 5. For more information, call 303-722-2541 or go to www.scanantiques.com. Or just stop by and absorb this wonderful collection of European treasures.

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