This past weekend I traveled to Massachusetts to experience the Brimfield Antique Show. And let me just tell you, it really was an experience. I didn’t actually buy that much, but I kind of felt like I was in some sort of time machine developing a deeper understanding of eras long past. With my friend Judy as my antiquing companion, we swam through vast fields of furniture, products, and knick knacks in search of treasure. I kind of wished I had taken this trip a year ago when we first moved into our apartment and still had no furniture. Many of the items that I fell in love with, we already owned or did not have room for. It also made me wish I had a bigger apartment. I reluctantly walked away from many amazing finds, but here are some of my favorite things I saw and some of the Brimfield tips I learned along the way:
The show is basically vast fields littered with tents of various sizes that the vendors use to display their goods. Not every vendor is there every day, so if you can find out when their last day is, you can sometimes come back and they’ll have lowered their prices. Many tents we visited became somewhat desperate to get rid of everything when they knew they’d have to pack everything up soon. Most are also willing to bargain somewhat.
One thing I learned is that this event has become very commercialized. There are a lot of fashion brands and major companies that shop here for unique items to fill their showrooms or retail spaces. Unfortunately, they buy up a lot of the good stuff, and they are willing to spend a pretty penny on it. That drives up the prices for regular people like me.
Judy and I found that there were some larger tents that, as soon as you walked in, you immediately knew that the prices would be higher than what would be comfortable. These tents were usually arranged like a retail space, perfectly styled and coordinated. They were clearly catering towards those who might be here on business, not as interested in digging and searching, with company funding to back their purchases. Some of the most beautiful items were found in spaces like these, but we could only look since they were always out of our price range. We ended up finding the best deals at the smaller tents with a more random assortment of items.
These mounted antlers were also being sold at a high price at one of the larger tents. I found the exact same antlers in one of the tiny tents for much less. Sometimes it pays off to shop around because different shops will carry the same items.
Pictured below is the item that I walked away from most regretfully.
I already have a dresser set in our bedroom that I love – and we simply don’t have the space to squeeze in a piece of furniture this large into any other room. But this had to be one of the most beautiful dressers I’ve ever seen, and the vendors were only charging $170 for it!! Amazing! It was really solidly built and just look at that beautiful hardware. The only problem is that it had a little mold growing on the bottom, but I’m sure that’s easily fixable.
These dishes were fun to see. My mom had a set just like it when I was a kid.
Hartford Denim Company was also set up at a fun little shop I came across. They had a guy set up at one of the antique sewing tables making raw denim garments. I know my buddy Andrew at 3sixteen would have appreciated it. And with my love of sewing, it was also really fun to see one of the antique machines in working condition and in action.
Also related to my fashion/sewing/textile print background, there was an amazing shop (and a few others too) selling a huge variety of Indian textiles and rugs.
My favorite thing at this tent were these wooden batik printing blocks. As a textile print designer, I thought these would make the perfect decorative addition to my home. I bought a set of three =)
And here are a bunch more things we saw!
Another thing I’ll say is that I’m glad we came to the May show, and not the one in July. It was hot and my scalp got a little sun burned. You spend a lot of time walking for miles scouring each tent. It was exhausting, but would have been worse in the summer. If you go, definitely wear good shoes.
Also, come early and leave early each day. Traffic is crazy and you’ll beat the rush that way. Parking will be easier earlier too.
In my next post I’ll write about the actual items I ended up taking home with me and where they ended up in my home. It was such a fun experience and I’d love to come back again in the future (especially if we ever get a bigger place maybe 5-10 years from now).