Its that time of the year again!! For those of you who have not made it before, I think its well worth the trip even if you dont like antiques...the people watching is amazing. Whats Brimfield? The short of it is: Thousands of antique dealers set up camp in grassy fields that stretch a one mile length of a rural highway. Picture a scene similar to a deadshow parking lot and a funky carnival/circus minus (real) animals. Its amazing what you see, and what you are able to find. The size can be overwhelming, but just have fun with it.
People who know what they are looking for, know what they are looking for. My tips are for first timers. For people who aren’t wearing a t-shirt or a top hat that tells what they collect. (Yes... people actually do that.) It’s for people like me who don’t know what they are looking for… until they see it...there is some GREAT stuff distributed amongst some unbelievable junk.
Here are some tips for first time buyers...
Here are some tips for first time buyers...
• Remain calm Buying at a BUSY flea market can be a little nerve racking. It can be difficult concentrating, with all the people and the stuff especially if you are an “early bird” when all the diehards are out. Just relax and settle into the booth you are looking in. Don’t let yourself feel rushed or persuaded by a dealer to buy something you don’t want, or pay more than you want to.
• Have a Budget & Bargain Decide before hand how much you want to spend on your total purchases and only bring that amount. Once you find something you like and ask the price, decide how much you want to spend for it. Most flea markets don’t have set prices. You can expect to pay between 5-10% less than marked...sometimes less. Ask the dealer what their “best price” is. Be respectful when you barter, keep in mind that many dealers do this for a living and are also collectors, most will be fair! If the price ends up being more than you wanted, don’t buy it. You never now, the dealer might come down on their price. If you are not comfortable bargaining, take awhile to watch other shoppers do it. A knowledgeable bargainer is always respected, and watching is a great way to learn and feel comfortable.
• See it, Buy it Because many of the buyers, or “pickers”, at Brimfield are dealers or pickers themselves, don’t walk away from a bargain. If you see something you love, at the right price, buy it. If you don’t, you might either not be able to find the booth again, or when you do find the booth again it might be too late.
• Small bills. Expect to pay cash. Try not to carry large bills, it will be easier to bargain when you have exact change.
• Know what your buying. This can be hard when you aren’t looking for something specific. If you do have an idea of what you are looking for, do a little research on ebay or antique sites to get an idea of the price ranges to expect. A flea market is a great place learn about new things, if you saw a corkscrew you liked, but didn’t know if it was a good price or not, ask the buyer wearing the “I collect corkscrews” t-shirt. It’s either their hobby or their job, and most likely they like to talk about corkscrews. If I’m not having the conversation myself, I also like to ease drop when buying. Listen to what people are buying, where it was found, and why it is special.
• Be friendly, and don’t buy from mean people. It seems like most of the people who sell at flea markets do it for fun, even if it is their job. Take the time to chat and be respectful of their items, a lot of times the items are from their personal collection. Be respectful when bargaining. A big part of the joy in buying old things is the experience in acquiring them… You’ll have more fun if you make your purchases through someone who wants to sell to you, and since their collection is becoming your collection you might be able to learn more about what you are looking for!
• Wear comfortable clothes. Brimfield is a mile stretch, with “fields” on both sides, sometimes 20 or more booths deep. That’s a lot of miles. Tennis shoes aren’t pretty, but a must. Layers are a good idea incase it gets really hot, or cold, you could be parked a mile away.
• The early bird gets the worm. Be at the shows when they open. And if its daybreak, bring a flashlight. Not all booths have lights.
• Parking. The Brimfield Antiques show happens three times a year, in May, July and September. Opening hours and days are staggered, as each “field” has an opening time. The earliest is daybreak, and the latest is 9am. There is a nominal fee for parking ($5-$8.00 a day) and one or two of the large areas may charge an entrance fee. I like to park in one of the fields, but I also try to park by daybreak. You can also park by the big white church right when you come into town.
• Food and Water Expect the type of food you would find at a amusement park or a fair. Granola bars, or fruit is a great thing to have in your bag. I also recommend a large bottle of water if it is really hot out, there is no shade unless you are in a booth with a tent.
• Carry it Home Depending on what you are looking for, bring a large canvas bag. Many people pull wagons, or push granny carts. I found a canves bag was perfect. Anything too heavy, or furniture I was able to pick up later in the day in the car. Ask the dealer if you want pick the item up later (pay for it on the spot.) Pick it up when you are headed back to your car, or write down good directions back to the booth, and drive your car to pick up large items.
• Weather Check the weather when you pack. Rain can be a great bonus if you have an umbrella you’ll be able to fight less crowd, therefore find better deals! Bring sunblock, there is nowhere to buy it if you forget it.
And most importantly, something I always forget, bring handy wipes. The hand washing opportunities are scarce...
• Book your hotel/motel early. (Reason #1...The picture below. Reason #2... Self -flushing toilets, flushing every fifteen minutes ALL NIGHT LONG.)
• Have Fun.
Stay tuned! I will update fun pictures of
stuff I find, I have a pretty funky list
(Here are some from past trips...)
Are you going to be in Brimfield this year,
or are you a dealer? Send me an email and
lets say Hello!