Antiquing at Brimfield

antique paintings at flea market
Last week I took a 14 hour road trip to check out the Brimfield Flea Market for the first time and source for the shop. The Brimfield antique show is one of the biggest in the country. It is located in Massachusetts. Sadly, this show was considerably smaller due to Covid restrictions, but I couldn't stop my curiosities from making the trip.  And mainly because I didn't realize only one field was open until I was about halfway there, haha! With this in mind, I still had so much fun & I am dying to make it back for a second trip.  Plus, I now feel prepared for when the show is at max opening.  Read below what tips I'll be taking with me to the next show.

Brimfield flea market Massachusetts

1. ARRIVE EARLY
Early bird gets the worm!  I'm not a morning person, but I had zero regrets about the early wake up call and arrived at the 7 AM opening time.  The biggest benefit was an easy parking spot close to the field and no waiting times.  The central parking lots fill up fast, and the small town roads will start to fill up as well with traffic.  We also got to walk around the show for a few hours without crowds.  It really was a big difference.  Within only a few hours items started to have sold tags, and a lot of those items were heartbreakers. 

2. BRING CASH (LOTS OF IT)
The majority of the vendors asked for cash.  A few of them did have Venmo.  One guy had cash app, but my sister had to show him how to use it.  Next when I asked one guy if I could write a check, he said, "You look trustworthy so I guess I'll let you," haha! So even writing checks seems like a hit or miss.   Cash is the best bet! Just go ahead and withdraw all of your money.  You are going to want everything.
wood carved fish side table brimfield antique market
3. BARGAIN
Bargaining at Brimfield is half the fun.  I think the vendors like to bargain more than the customers.  Everyone is so nice and approachable and they are there to sell their stuff.  It's a fun part of the culture and often, it's a great way to get a good conversation started.  The negotiation would typically segway into a bit of history about the piece or their experience with the item.  Often I didn't even have to ask before I would hear a vendor offer up a discount for an item in hand.  Even if the price is low it doesn't hurt to ask! 

4.  LEAVE YOUR PURCHASE BEHIND AND PICK UP LATER
This is the best way to keep moving forward.  The vendors are super accommodating.  They will mark your item as sold and hold it for you until you can pick it up at the end of the day.  For small items, a lot of vendors would place the item under a table or blanket.  Just make sure to take a photo of what you buy and mark the location.  Bringing a notebook for notes on purchases can be helpful.  It's easy to forget items because you see so much.  We did have a cart for small items, but we found it frustrating to cart around, especially in the tighter areas. 

5.  AVOID CURATED SPACES IF LOOKING FOR A BARGAIN
The curated spaces tend to be more expensive similar to a retail shop.  However, they bring a lot of joy to walk through.  The best part about a flea market is digging!  A lot of people there have set up tents and brought items they have collected or items they had around the house and these tents offer great prices.

6. DRESS ACCORDINGLY
This one seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised.  Check the weather! While I was there for the May show it was chilly.   I would suggest comfortability first.  I opted for converses and jeans and then used a crossbody for a bag for hands free purposes.  I wouldn't recommend carrying a big bag because of the weight on your shoulders.  You will do a lot of walking and there is a lot of ground to cover.  I think next visit I will bring my boots in case it happens to be muddy or dry/dusty.  Most of the tents are in open fields.

7.  ACCOMODATIONS
Suppose you are planning on going book sooner than later.  The town is small and accommodations fill up fast.  This includes the surrounding areas as well. 

8.  HAVE A LIST OF WHAT YOU ARE SEARCHING FOR
There is so much stuff at Brimfield! If you are looking for something in particular, it's easy to get distracted.  As I looked through my photos, I was like, oh, I didn't even notice that! It is sensory overload in the best way, but you are more likely to find it if you know what you are after.  Make a list and have your measurements ready. Of course, you will find some great impulse buys.  It is impossible to see it all, even on a smaller scale.  If something is sold there are plenty of other things you will want.  I love architectural items and ended up with a bathtub I didn't know I needed and vintage 1930s tiles. 



I hope this is inspiring and helpful for anyone thinking about going. Please let me know if I can help with anything.  If you have any thoughts or concerns, I'm happy to send any information I can about the trip.  It's such a fun time.  If you are thinking about going, I highly suggest it!  :)


-Becca

1 comment

This article is so well written! I loved it :)

Charlie May 19, 2021

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