Brimfield Antique Flea Market. The flea market mecca that is only open 3 glorious times a year. I’ve been lured by its siren song since first learning about it in home magazines years ago. I’d admire some “found” item, some treasure on display in a home, and see in the article something like, “The owner so and so found the _________ (fill-in-the blank with some extraordinary find) at Brimfield” and I knew that someday, I too, would make the pilgrimmage to Brimfield.
It almost happened sooner. Last spring, when taping our episode for Flea Market Flip (read all about it here and here and here) we found out that our Buy Day was either going to be at Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market in Connecticut or at Brimfield. I was a little intimidated by that prospect because Brimfield was the unknown; I had been to Elephant’s Trunk before and knew what I was getting into. When we found out that our Buy Day was scheduled for Elephant’s Trunk, I was relieved but vowed that someday I would get to Brimfield.
Well, that someday was LAST week.
Brimfield Antique Flea Market is open for 6 days, 3 times a year in May, July and August, with May being the busiest show, September the next and July the slowest of the 3 due to the heat of summer. Since I’m a teacher, attending the July show while on summer vacation was the most reasonable for me and my partner in crime from Flea Market Flip and good friend, Melissa. Since it’s about 4 hours and 15 minutes away, we decided to leave on Monday, July 11th so we would be there at daybreak on the 12th when the show opened. Yep. That’s right. Daybreak.
We stayed in a motel in Sturbridge which is the largest town closest to Brimfield. We scrimped on our accommodations so we could spend our money where it mattered — at the flea market! We checked in quick and got back in the car to scope out Brimfield before opening day.
This proved to be yet another smart decision. The 15 minute drive from Sturbridge to Brimfield looked a lot like home — rural and quiet but when we entered the town of Brimfield, just past the big white church standing guard on the edge of town, we immediately noticed a sea of white tents. VENDORS!!! Closed, yet set- up and ready for opening day. And the tents went on and on and on, seemingly never-ending. Field after field, going back farther than we could see from the dark road.
We mapped out a parking plan and headed back to our hotel room. We decided that we would try to park as far down the road (Route 20) as we could the next day and either walk back to the car as needed or pick up purchases at the end of the day. Again, this later proved to be yet another smart move because we scored a cheap rate for parking and we were closest to the first field opening that day.
That’s the other fun of Brimfield. Not every field is open every day or at the same time. The schedule is readily available and I suspect some dealers move from field to field but it does keep the thrill of the hunt new and interesting.
Ok…so we scoped out Brimfield (in the dark), made a parking plan, and decided we needed sleep so we headed back to the motel in Sturbridge. We set our alarms for 4:30, except we didn’t sleep. I think I saw every hour between 12 and 4 and so did Melissa. It was like Christmas Eve!! The anticipation was crazy! When our alarms did go off (we set 2 of course, just in case!) we quickly dressed and were out the door, in our desired parking lot, and shopping by 5am! And we weren’t the only ones. It definitely wasn’t crowded at 5am but there was a steady stream of cars building. Some vendors weren’t even open yet in the field we started in but we were thrilled to be searching through all the treasures. It was a blast!
As the day went on, more fields and vendors were open. In fact, we were at the show from 5am until 5pm and did not see the same vendor twice. It’s every flea marketer’s dream.
Some of the booths were set up like boutique stores and items were priced to match. I liked these booths too even though we didn’t buy much from them because I got so many good ideas.
Other dealers ranged from the serious, stuffy and not-at-all stuffy antique dealers, to vendors selling new and reproductions, and to my favorite — the “junk” dealers. Truly something for everyone and every budget. So much to see. Really something for everyone.
We shopped for 2 full days and this is what we learned.
What to bring…
- Cash. Many vendors take credit cards but cash gives more negotiating power.
- A cart to pull around your treasures. I found one for $5 at a yard sale earlier this summer and it worked great because it folds flat for storage.
- Comfortable, closed shoes. We walked A LOT and even though I was wearing sneaks, my feet were still dusty and dirty by the end of the day.
- Tape measure so you don’t have to ask to borrow one when examining your treasures.
- Small back pack for your money, sunscreen, and snacks. I packed a cross-body purse too but I’m so glad I went with my backpack because it kept my hands free.
- A great attitude. Melissa and I met so many fun people from all over the country. I’m glad we took the time to relax and enjoy the show rather than plow through it We would have missed so much.
But enough talking…more pictures, right???
This giant urn (part of a pair) is located outside of the Brimfield Barn which is an antique store open year round on Route 20. We jokingily told Melissa’s husband that she bought it and that we needed the trailer STAT to bring it home.
So many crates — stacks and stacks (and a little piece of home too. Dickson City is in our neck of the woods!)
These bottles didn’t come home with me but I love the idea of grouping en masse (maybe on a slightly smaller scale though for my dining room table).
Typography was hot — old and new. I didn’t stage this (nor did I buy it) but I loved seeing my youngest’s name randomly while shopping!
I walked by these pineapples so many times I should have been charged with stalking. I didn’t buy them and now am wishing that I had.
Inspiration for future projects was everywhere, like this whale I’d like to make (or have my talented FIL make) to hang by the pool.
Or these leather benches. Would look great as a coffee table or at the end of a bed.
I loved all of the plants too like this display…
Of course I didn’t just LOOK, here’s a photo a pic of what I did BUY. After I unloaded my car, I realized that there seems to be a color theme? Anyway, in future blog posts, I’ll share what I did with my “new” treasures.
And here’s some of the things Melissa bought…
We had so much fun! This trip did not disappoint.
See you next year, Brimfield!
ps. McDonald’s sells Lobster Rolls in New England. Who knew?