I spent this past weekend in New England, visiting my mother (for Mother's Day) and galavanting through the Brimfield Antiques Show! Three times a year, Brimfield Ma, hosts one of the largest antique shows in the country with acres upon acres of booths, where dealers from all over the country come to sell their goods. There are a number of genres from silver to furniture dealers and many many kinds in between. My parents happen to live quite close so my mother is veteran who has been going for many years. Although I'm relatively new to the experience, I have learned well from my mother and each time I go, I come home with some treasures.
This time I came home with two light fixtures - one for the bedroom which is a large cascading crystal chandelier, the other for the dressing area is a small crystal chandelier, and a brass crab - that was a gift to my boyfriend.
For anyone planning to take the trip in the future, here are a few tips that I always suggest to newcomers.
- The show is three times a year: May is the best, because dealers have been hoarding their stuff all winter and are ready to sell. July is the worst, its very hot and many dealers choose to only come in May and September.
- Weekdays are the prime shopping days: The show starts on Tuesdays, and weekdays are often when the professional buyers come to shop. Sometimes dealers even buy from each other early in the week then sell their purchases at the same show later on. I suggest that if you can take the time to go for more than one day, do it and to plan to head there on a Thursday and Friday. Thursday you will still find a lot of great deals and the selection will not be picked over. On Fridays, the J & J's field opens, which is where I seem to find the best stuff. You do have to pay to enter J & J's but it's always where the best vendors set up shop.
- Go early! This time we made the mistake to leave at 9 am. We should have left my mother's house at 7 am. A drive that typically takes 25 - 30 mins took us 2.5 hours. We were stuck in traffic the entire way! It was horrendous!
- Some fields are better than others: J & J's is the best, but they do not open until Friday. May's is the second best. I hit those two first, then make the trek down the road into the others.
- Go with a plan, know what kind of things you have in mind: This way you'll be able to scan the shops more quickly and be less overwhelmed by the amount of merchandise. I usually create a small list of "stuff" that would be nice to have. You shouldn't however be too set on specifics because you may not find what you're looking for and will feel unsuccessful. For example, this time I knew I would like to find lights for the bedroom, dressing room, and entryway. As well as a sculpture for over the bed. Lastly, I'm always on the lookout for a nice little object to display on the bookcase.
- Dress appropriately: It can be very dusty, muddy and hot all at once at Brimfield and you must be prepared for all sorts of weather. This year it rained entire week before the show. I brought with me: my wellies, my comfortable shoes, jeans, a sun hat and wore a few layers. I didn't end up using the wellies but I was thankful for being over prepared.
- Cash is good! Checks are too! Some dealers except credit cards, but you will typically have to pay tax when purchasing with cards. They love checks, because they don't have to make change, but cash is great for bargaining.
- Bargain! I typically ask for about 10 - 15% less than the asking price and they usually accept my offer. Sometimes we just meet in the middle. I've also learned, when they tell you the price, hesitate and they may even come down without you having to say a word.
*The booth where the lights were purchased is Antique Lighting Guild based out of Saco, Me - they're currently remodeling their site (antiquelightingguild.com) so they can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.