For those of you who haven't experienced the joy of the Brimfield Antique Show, we wanted to alert you that it's happening Tuesday through Sunday...
Brimfield is the largest, best-known outdoor antiques show in the country, and its July dates are this upcoming Tuesday through Sunday. This flea-market nirvana began in the 1950's and is held 3 times every year in the quaint town of Brimfield, MA -- about 1 1/2 hours west of Boston and 3 hours from NYC...
Brimfield doesn't just have great furniture. If you can dream of it, you can find it at Brimfield. Seriously, anything. For those of you who can get there, we thought we'd give you some tips to make it a successful trip.
Leave Early. Both the exits on the Mass and the NY sides get crowded after 8:30 am, so if you can time it to get there at 8:00 or before, you won't have to idle in a sometimes miles-long line for parking. The show runs for 6 days from sunup to sundown, rain or shine, so even if you arrive at 5:00 am, there's stuff to see! Here are directions from Boston and NY.
Pick a weekday. Brimfield's 23 fields are open Tuesday through Sunday, but many vendors pack up and leave on Friday. There's a lot left on the weekend, but many serious buyers consider it "picked over" by Saturday. If you like modern, the best day to go is Wednesday, when the Heart-o-the-Mart opens. Heart-o-the-Mart opens at 9:00 am on Wednesday (a day later than the show opens).
Know your house. Since everything is enticing at Brimfield, you need to have done your homework. Try out Sarahrae's excellent floor plan/color/organizing technique to have your room colors and dimensions in your pocket. This is most helpful when you see things you never knew you had to have ("that giant dinosaur will look great in my dining room!").
Can't fit in in your car? No worries. There are lots of entrepreneurs who drive to the flea market with trucks and vans, not to shop, but just to offer their services carting your loved big item home for you. Look for them walking with signs up and down the street. Not going home right away? You can even mail things to your home via the UPS shopping outlet on-site.
What to Bring:
- water (its hot!)
- bug spray. Brimfield is held in acres and acres of fields. In July there can be black flies.
- tape measure
- folding bag to put things in
- cell phone, especially if you're with a friend and get split up. This is not only to find each other, but you
can also send each other photos of things you like!
- fold-up rain poncho. Even if it's not raining when you leave home, Brimfield has its own unique weather which can be significantly different from towns even close by. But don't worry if you forget yours, you can always buy one there.
- a friend, preferably someone who's not afraid to tell you that if you buy that giant cigar store indian, it might scare you in the middle of the night.
-stamina. You'll never get through even half of the market in a day.
Here are some more helpful tips from the Brimfield website:
- If you see something you MUST have, pick it up and do not let go. DO NOT under any circumstances leave the booth without a leaving a retainer to hold the item if you SIMPLY MUST HAVE IT. That nice professional-looking couple over at the Windsor chair on the other side of the booth? They've got their eyes on your prize and will grab it given half a chance. (This kind of thing happens, so a word to the wise!)
- If you cannot afford an item that you LOVE, often times the dealer will work something out in the style of a layaway. This is less certain if the dealer is from Alaska and has to lug the item back, but more certain if he's from New York.
- Go when it's raining and when attendance is thin. You're more likely to close a deal to your advantage quicker.
- In some of the smaller fields, if you're looking for a "deal" you will probably find it in the rear-most parts of the fields. Dealers in the rear of the fields are less likely to be professional dealers, although they can be the most fun places to browse.
- While there are several fields that charge admission fees, particularly on their opening day, the great majority do not; those that do frequently waive the admission later in the day. You can have a great time not spending a dime on admission, but it can be a good idea to pay the admission fee if you're looking for something particular. It's often worth it.
- Because of the sheer size of the show area-wise, if you see an item that you are interested in, but are not ready to commit to just yet, be sure to get the name, booth number and field that the dealer is in so you can easily find your way back. After hours of browsing, walking and talking, with no easy landmarks in sight, it's easy to forget where you were when you saw that prized item.
If you go on Wednesday, we'll see you there! We'll be the ones looking like this photo taken at the 2008 May Brimfield show from weaverknits flickr photostream.