The third and final week of Brimfield starts TOMORROW and anyone who lives in the Northeast and beyond knows that this is the largest outdoor antique show in the world (not exaggerating). They hold it three times a year (May, July, and September) for 6 days and thousands come out to shop until they drop. My mom and I went for the first time this past May and literally couldn’t believe how big it was. We walked over 4 miles and saw maybe one third of the entire show. Some booths/vendors were very reasonably priced, whereas others were more expensive. There are professional antique dealers, representatives from small antique shops around the country, people who make specific wares, etc. It is definitely a do not miss if you live in this area. We’re planning to go on Friday this week and will be getting there early. It’s in Massachusetts and about an hour away from us. In honor of the final Brimfield week of the year here are my top 10 tips and tricks to tackling Brimfield or any other large scale antique show or flea market:
- Wear walking shoes and dress in layers. You will be walking for miles and everyone knows the weather in New England is unpredictable. I usually wear an old pair of converse and a tee with a cardigan and scarf so I’m ready for anything.
- Bring tote bags or even a wagon if you’re planning on making a larger purchase. They have porters that go around offering to bring things to your car for a fee, but I’m much too controlling to allow my newly found items to leave my possession. The big plastic reusable bags from Home Goods/TJ Maxx work great!
- Bring water and snacks. They have food vendors, but the lines are usually long. So I plan ahead by bringing a water bottle and a granola bar that way we only have to stop once for lunch.
- Bring cash! Many places take cards, but it’s easier if you to have cash on you. Plus having cash can help your haggling game.
- Speaking of which, prepare to haggle. I am TERRIBLE at this! But my parents are pros. To quote my mom, “How much were you asking for this…oh, yea, I was thinking more like 8…oh you can’t, that’s too bad (places it back on table). Oh you’ll take 10? Great!” <Whispers to me, “I would have paid 15…”> Especially here in New England, people can be assholes and like to see what they can get away with. If you stick to your guns and know your price you’ll get more for your money.
- Know what things are worth. If you are specifically on the hunt for 1960’s china dolls than get an idea of the average cost. If you low ball them they will dismiss you, but they may also try to scam you by putting a big number on a doll worth half as much assuming you don’t know your shit. So, know your shit.
- Know what you’re looking for. It can be super overwhelming once you’re there because there are so many booths and vendors…way to much eye stimulation. But, if you make a little list before you go you can make sure to keep an eye out for the things you really want and of course grab a few things that you didn’t realize you needed!
- Get there early! There is a ton of parking, but to avoid traffic and going from lot to lot looking for a spot get there at the beginning of the day. Some lots open at daybreak, I think we’re shooting for a 7am arrival time. The best advice I read before I went in May is not to bail out too early because the lots down on the main street right where the action is will usually have spots available.
- Bring the big car. You don’t think you’ll be buying any large furniture pieces or a seven foot garden stake until you get there and realize you can’t live without them.
- Get a good nights sleep the night before. I was exhausted after our Brimfield trip in May, I think I even fell asleep on the way home (mom was driving)!
I’ve been going to flea markets, antique shops, and tag sales since I was a kid. I hated it then, but of course now find it to be a lot of fun. There’s just something about finding that unique item for your living room or piece of furniture that you can paint/upholster/update that makes you feel so accomplished!
Share your Brimfield experience or flea market tips in the comments!