shopping brimfield

It’s that time of year again!  Brimfield is my very own Disney World.  It is truly the best place on earth!  Entering Brimfield-0600

For one week in May, July and September, antiques dealers from all over the world gather in Brimfield, Massachusetts for one of the largest shows in the country. The show consists of over a dozen fields of individual flea markets lined along Route 20. It is hard to believe until you experience it for yourself.  If you are going for your first time this week, here are a few of my tips for having a great experience…

tips for shopping Brimfield

  1. Bring cash.  This may seem obvious but it is worth the reminder!  Cash is king.  There are a few dealers that accept credit cards but it is not the mainstream at Brimfield.  Having cash also helps to stick to a budget in my opinion.Brimfield Barn
  2. Make a shopping list.  At any given time, I have a mental list of key items that I am on the hunt for.  It is good to put that list in writing, along with dimensions.  Set a limit on what you’re willing to spend on each piece.  Brimfield can be overwhelming with options.  You can easily lose track of what you’re there for in the first place and what you’d normally pay.  I refer to it as Brimfield Brain.  Don’t get too swept up!Brimfield Antique Market
  3. Dress the part.  This includes layers and closed toe shoes.  You can easily shop for 8 hours straight and not even realize it.  At least I can!  Make sure you are comfortable and well prepared.  Maybe you need an umbrella or scarf.  Don’t forget sunscreen, perhaps a hat and water.  Depending on the weather, the fields can be dusty or muddy.  Now is not the time to be a fashion plate.  Brimfield Antique Market
  4. Bring a truck.  If you don’t have one, rent one.  Even if you’re not planning on getting anything big.  You never know what treasure you will find and if it doesn’t fit in your sedan, you may never get over it.  Rent a U-haul van but don’t wait until you arrive to do so.  It’s nearly impossible to find an available one in Brimfield.  Bring it with you.  It’s worth it.  Also, be sure to arrive by 9 am to get a parking spot. Brimfield Parking-0580
  5. Buy now.  If you take too long to think about it, the next buyer will come along and scoop it up.  Don’t wait. You already know this.  Brimfield antique market
  6. Rarely pay asking price.  Dealers expect to give you a lower price at Brimfield.  There’s been several times where I didn’t feel the need to haggle and the dealer stills lowers the price about 10% without me even asking.  For example, something says $22, they’re pretty much expecting you to offer $20.  Haggling is part of the culture here.  Definitely “bundle” meaning offer less when buying in volume. vintage faucet fixtures
  7. Bring a cart, dolly and tools. Plus reusable shopping bags for smalls.  You’ll also want to have a tape measure handy.  A wrench can’t hurt as you may find you’ll have more room if you remove table legs.  We find it is much easier to walk around with our carts and load them up as we go.  Bungee cords always help.  When we have a full cart, we make our way back to load our truck and then we pick up where we left off.   Don’t fret if you don’t have these things because you can always find a “Porter for Hire”.  Brimfield Porter for Hire
  8. Take a snack break.  As mentioned, Brimfield is like Disney World complete with root beer floats, a beer garden and funnel cake.  Treat yo’ self!  You’ve earned it.Brimfield Antique Market
  9. Find a favorite field.  Many flea markets and the best dealers in the country are confined to just a few miles.  I’ve found that each field tends to have its own vibe.  Some are heavy on the industrial pieces.  Others have tons of shabby pieces.  Some are filled with mid-century and clean lines.  There are a few fields that I gravitate towards.  I try to visit each and every field but then return to the ones that I find fit my personal aesthetic.  I am more likely to buy at those.Brimfield Antique Market
  10. Find inspiration.  In just a few square miles, there is so much to see and do.  There are TV crews.  There are buyers for huge international companies.  There are small businesses taking off.  It is a true inspiration.  You can see some of the best merchandising right there in a dusty field.  This is where trends are born.  With a keen eye, you can spot what is going to be big next season by monitoring what is selling and not selling.  For example, a few years ago glass buoys were selling like crazy.  Everyone was carrying one around.  The following year, that trend was mass-produced by the big box stores and could be found everywhere.  Last spring, I noticed that the buoys were barely selling.  The same thing happened a few years ago with galvanized olive buckets.  Certainly some consumers still appreciate the “real thing” but the reproduction changed the demand.  This flea market subculture has a huge impact on mainstream America.  Possibly more so than some retailers even realize.  Don’t skip any fields because you never know what upcoming trend you’ll spot.  And forget what the old timers say, antiques are not dying!Brimfield Antique Market
  11. Make friends!  This is a great opportunity to get to know people in the industry.  Exchange contact info with your favorite dealers.  Meet up with bloggers, magazine editors, designers, etc.  You simply never know who you’ll meet.  Once we met a couple with the same wedding anniversary as us, just 50 years apart!  Someone else gave us their dinner reservation at one of the sought after restaurants nearby.  Brimfield Antique Market
  12. That reminds me, Make reservations.  Restaurants fill up fast when the fields close at 5 pm.  Call ahead of time.  And if you’re planning to stay over, book your hotel a few months out.  Don’t be afraid to drive 30 minutes or so from your hotel to the event.  Brimfield Antique Market 2013 (17 of 27)

That concludes my tips for shopping Brimfield.  We won’t be making it this week so I’ll be living vicariously through instagram!  What tips do you have for a successful Brimfield experience?

tips for shopping Brimfield


they say it’s your birthday

Can I just tell you once again how much I’ve enjoyed my staycation over the last week and a half?  I return to the grind tomorrow but not without just one more play day.  I started the day with a birthday breakfast out with a bestie.  I will be going antiquing and out to lunch with my mom to celebrate our birthdays.  (Her’s is tomorrow and it’s a BIG one!)  Hopefully there are many new treasures in our future. 

I need to tell you about yesterday.  It was epic!  I met the legendary Miss Mustard Seed.  And her sidekick Mini Mustard Seed.  What a delight!  Let me pause for a minute for those of you that are my family and friends and only read my blog (thanks) and are therefore not in the know in the design blog world.  Miss Mustard Seed is pretty much amazing.  Let’s face it.  She invented the vintage sheet music wreaths along with the influence of the Union Jack furniture craze plus many other home decor trends.  Marian has a totally admirable design and freelance writing career and a wonderful eye for antiques. 

So why would she be meeting lil ol’ me?  Turns out we live just a few hours apart.  After reading a recent blog post about how rapidly her business is growing, I offered to be an antique buyer for her.  I simply emailed her and she welcomed the assistance.  Marian is so down to earth but I still acted like I was talking to George Clooney in our first conversation.  Yes, I just compared Miss Mustard Seed to George Clooney.  So what?  That’s how A list she is. 

I essentially pick items that fit her style to relieve her of some of her shopping duties.  Being a personal shopper has always been a dream.  I live to shop.  Especially for antiques.  Perfect combination if I do say so. 

This is my best “picker” look…

We met up at this great little flea market called Root’s Old Mill.  Neither of us had ever been.  Who knew there was such a bustling business every Tuesday morning in Manheim, PA?  The market was nestled amongst several rolling farms.  I love taking a drive out in the sprawling country and seeing nothing but undeveloped land.  What a refreshing sight.  As you can tell by the sky, rain threatened all morning.  Fortunately it held out for our shopping excursion. 

I’ve got a thing for silos.  Weird, I know.  There is just something so iconic about them.

Since it is my birthday week (in my family we get an entire week), I decided to treat myself to a little antiquing in downtown Lancaster on my way back home.  I stumbled upon a fabulous vintage and artisan co-op called Building Character.  Oh and did that building have character.  Exposed brick.  High ceilings.  The ultimate industrial chic market.  It actually reminded me a lot of West End Garage in Cape May…another fave shopping destination.  I’m loving these venues and need to get into a shop like this!

I bought a kelly green vintage coat in mint condition at an excellent price.  Happy birthday to me, from me.  Can you also tell how the full length mirror is hanging on a very old, freestanding door?  I like that look.

When I went back out to North Queen Street, the skies opened up and the threat of rain became a reality.  I must come visit Lancaster again soon!

The day was ended with a birthday dinner and cake with Ryan’s family.  They gave me a tool chest filled with tools!  My very own palm sander, dremel, heat gun.  Oh my.  What a nerd I’ve become.

All in all a pretty great start to my birthday.