This week (May 12-17) more than 5,000 dealers will set up camp at the thrice-annual Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, Massachusetts (near Sturbridge). Anyone who loves antiques—from Americana to bric-a-brac—will surely find something to treasure at this behemoth of a flea market, but Brimfield’s large size can be overwhelming. To that end, some great resources are available on the web—dealer directories, FAQs, and more—but here are a few of our own quick tips:
* Go early or go late—just go! While getting to Brimfield before the sun rises on Tuesday has its advantages—virtually unpicked booths—with fields opening on each of the show’s six days there will always be something new. Remember, too, that as the weekend winds down, most dealers will be looking to sell, making Saturday and Sunday the best days for a bargain.
* Take measurements. If you’re looking for something specific—a new set of chairs for your kitchen table or a credenza for your living room—be sure to take some quick measurements before you head to Brimfield. Vintage chairs and tables are not always a standard size and therefore may not work with pieces you already have, so be sure to bring the dimensions of existing furniture as well as of the space you want to fill to assure that redecorating with your flea market finds a snap.
* Make a wish list, but keep an open mind. Brimfield can be staggering if you don’t have a least one or two things in mind to look for: vintage textiles, garden antiques, or whatever. This will ensure that you won’t get bogged down looking over every item in every booth (scanning for key items is often the best way to cover ground). However even very specific collectors can benefit from the eclectic offerings at Brimfield—many items are so unusual that until you saw them, you’d never know they were just what you wanted!
* Stick to a budget. As with any type of shopping, setting limits can help prevent impulse purchases and help you make more informed choices—considering factors like rarity or condition. With that in mind, however, it is always best to have some “emergency” cash in case you come across that once-in-a-lifetime find.
* Buy a gift. Antiques collecting is often a very personal pursuit, and can keep us focused only on what we collect or like. Buying something for someone else not only means introducing them to the passion for collecting, but can also mean seeing old things in a new light.
Images from Flickr by Svadilfari, Chrisq38, and I wish I was the Royal Trux.