From the time I moved to New England in 2005, I’ve heard people talking about “Brimfield”. I had a vague idea that maybe it was a town filled with good antique shops, but until a couple years ago, my understanding was hazy, and come to find out later, totally wrong. The Brimfield Antique & Collectibles Show is one of the most massive antique and collectible shows I’ve ever witnessed. Literally ACRES of antiques, vintage steals, jewelry, clothing, textiles, etc.
Located in the sleepy, small town of Brimfield, Massachusetts the three-times-yearly show sprawls over 20 “fields”, hosting around 6,000 dealers. Lining either side of Route 20 for about a mile, half of the fields are open access, and half are paid admission only. I packed up my camera, a few snacks, grabbed some cash, took a big breath and hit the road for the 2.5 hour ride down to Brimfield.
I knew Brimfield was going to be big. I knew it was going to be jam-packed and helter skelter, but arriving was still completely overwhelming. I should tell you right now that I am not, and have never been, a yard sale girl. I avoid department stores, because I get totally overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices. I quickly get overstimulated and exhausted. That being said, my tastes have evolved over the years and I find myself yearning for eclectic, one of a kind, not in stores kind of finds. If that’s what you’re looking for, Brimfield is THE place to go.
I should also admit that while I have a pretty defined style of my own, I did not go to design school, I am not an interior designer, and I have no art background. I can’t spot a classic from a thousand yards. I’m no design eagle eye, and I don’t pretend to be. I do, however, often unwittingly find myself drawn to pieces that are classics, designed by famed designers, and worth thousands. I’m a moth, drawn to a very, very, very expensive flame. Can’t be helped. But I’m learning about the big names of design as I go, so even if I can’t afford those pieces right now, at least I’m learning each time.
When I was researching Brimfield, I picked up a few good tips:
- Haggle – yes, even if it makes your squirm.
- Wear comfortable clothes – boots if it’s been rainy, walking shoes if it’s dry. Bring layers, including sunscreen and a hat.
- Bring a cart – I saw wagons, pull carts, wire grocery carts, etc. You can leave large purchases behind or even arrange to have them shipped, but it’s not easy to navigate a car to a dealer’s booth. If it’s small enough to put in a cart, that’s one less trip you have to make and more time to shop.
- Bring cash – parking is cash only, so right there, you need to have $5-15 on hand. There are ATM’s on site, but if you grab your cash before you arrive, you can hit the ground running. Plus, haggling is MUCH easier when it’s a cash transaction.
- Delivery – you can make arrangements with the dealer, or one of the enterprising delivery companies who set up shop to manage your larger purchases.
- There’s an App for that – after years of old school DIY scouring, Brimfield has gone high tech with the Brimfield Flea Finder app. Created by Ryan Servant, the app helps you locate basic necessities like food, parking, bathrooms, and ATMs, but even better, it allows dealers to sign up and create a profile. You can call a porter, remember where you’ve left purchases, locate a specific dealer, even check out daily “Hot Items” and track them down via GPS.
- Schedule your trip so that you can hit May’s – the field opens to both dealers and customers at 9am sharp on Thursday, so it’s a level playing field. Stories of once-in-a-lifetime finds abound.
I was only at Brimfield for one short day on Tuesday, so I basically saw the tip of the iceberg. Even though I was absolutely wiped at the end of the day, I’m so glad I went and can’t wait to go back. And I’m more than a little proud of myself for braving the enormity by myself. I think it would be fun to go with a friend, but going alone allowed me to wander wherever my interest took me and not concern myself with accommodating a schedule. Maybe I’ll even try a little solo yard sale-ing this summer….
Don’t live near New England? Here are a few similar shows that might be near you:
- Alameda Point Antiques Faire – California
- Walnut Antique Show – Iowa
- Brooklyn Flea – New York
- Santa Monica Airport Outdoor Antique & Collectible Market – California
- Country Living Fair – New York, Ohio, Georgia
- Marburger Farm Antique Show – Texas
- New Hampshire Antique Show – New Hampshire
- Dixon’s Furniture Auction – Maryland
- Raleigh Flea Market – North Carolina
- Hawaii All-Collectors Show – Hawaii
- Farm Chicks Antique Show – Washington
- Sparks Flea Market – Kansas
- Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days – Minnesota
Curious about what else I saw that caught my eye at Brimfield? Here are a few more treasures:
Inspired by Brimfield? See endless amounts of amazing vintage finds and flips in the photo gallery below.