Attending the Brimfield Antique Show in central Massachusetts (also known as the Brimfield Antique Flea Market…I can’t even tell which one is the “official” website) has been on my bucket list for years, and we finally made it up there a couple weeks ago! My sorority little’s wedding conveniently happened to overlap with the last market of the year (it happens 3x/year) and since J grew up in the area, it was easy to fly up Thursday night and head to the market early Friday. The weather was supposed to be pretty crummy but it ended up being a cool day with a couple sprinkles but generally overcast skies. It was pretty much exactly what I expected, but less chaotic and more organized.
I have some experience with antiques and flea markets but still turned to the experts (in my mind, at least!)–Meg, Jackie, and Jill–for their tips. We were flying with carry-ons and had no plans to buy furniture, so only brought $200 cash–and didn’t even use all of it–so was mainly there to browse and hopefully come home with a few gems. We ended up with a semi-large blue and white bowl (in pristine condition with scalloped edges that weren’t chipped!), brass anchor-shaped bookends, a cool piece of handmade wood art with a lobster (pictured below), and a couple pairs of earrings for me ($1 each!).
What to know before going to Brimfield
Do some research ahead of time. I relied on Meg, Jackie, and Jill’s general recs but it’s tough to remember distinguishing characteristics of specific vendors or fields if you don’t go regularly. I googled a lot but found this AD article, this blog post from Abby, and this Apartment Therapy post to be the most helpful. We physically walked most of the fair (no small feat since we were only there for one day!) but I’d listed out the fields I wanted to prioritize since it’s hard to see everything. Vendors sell seemingly everything under the sun so make a list of what you’re looking for, if you’re shopping for something in particular.
Get there early. We got to the town of Brimfield around 8am on Friday. We were initially planning to get there closer to 7:30 but our flight in the night before was delayed so we opted for a few extra minutes of sleep. Consider parking in the first or second lot you see as you drive in–the ones closer to the fields are more expensive. We paid $5 and it was only a 10 minute walk from the market.
Bring cash. While a few vendors take card, most–including food vendors–only accept cash and negotiating isn’t going to go well if you aren’t paying in cash. Ideally bring a mix of small and large bills, and plan to steer clear of the ATMs as they generally have long lines and have been known to run dry!
Negotiate! You can’t go to America’s largest outdoor flea market and pay full price for anything! Everyone has a different stance on this–in some cases, Meg has recommended offering half the listed price when antiquing–and I’m kind of all over the place in my philosophy and really just base my negotiating based on the general vibe/situation. For instance, I offered $15 for something priced at $18 but it was handmade by the guy (so not an antique), and he accepted. We wanted this beautiful pair of glasses that were priced at $28, and I offered $18. She wouldn’t go below $25 so we passed. Decide how much something is truly worth to you and don’t get carried away in the moment. There are thousands of vendors so there will be plenty of opportunities to shop!
Dress appropriately. I wore denim shorts, a tee, hat, fanny pack, and pullover and we both wore sneakers. Dress for the weather and make sure you’re comfortable…this is not the time to be cute! Everyone was really casual, and I appreciated having my hands free. J did bring a backpack (which ended up holding everything we got except the bowl) and we had a couple reusable grocery bags with us.
Go hungry! I’d heard the food at Brimfield was good but didn’t expect it to be SO good…we had lobster rolls and split fries for lunch, followed that up with Del’s Lemonade and fried dough, and an apple cider donut on our way out. Come hungry, and plan to bring cash specifically for food, as none of the places took card!
Those are my general takeaways from Brimfield–if you’ve considered making the trip or are really into antiquing/flea markets, go! If we end up moving up north one day, I plan to furnish our house with pieces from here…you can get the best deals on the most beautiful rugs, sideboards, dressers, tables, and everything in between. Shoot me an email if you want to chat further! I already can’t wait to go back :)