We look forward to shopping Brimfield every May after a long winter's break from outdoor antique markets with kettle corn and frozen lemonade. Imagine our disappointment when yesterday decided to be FREEZING and overcast! But alas, we got a hot chocolate, and had a nice 10 mile walk through field after field of antique furniture, rugs, small thingies and weird naked headless mannequins. In case you ever want to visit yourself- read our tips on how to best shop the largest flea market you ever did see here. And scroll through our finds below to read about our vision for each piece!
One recurring question we're always asked in regards to artwork is, "Where did you find that!?". The answer is as follows: Flea markets! Our absolute favorite thing to find at an antique fair is artist portfolios. A sketchbook full of figure studies, messy watercolors, pencil line drawings, I mean I'll take anything, as long as I didn't do it myself. (Side note: I lit'rally cannot appreciate artwork I've created myself. Anyone else have this problem?) Found portfolio pieces are quite often imperfect with a dot here or a wrinkle in the paper there but it adds to the character and reminds me I didn't pay arms and/or legs for it. And once in a frame, it looks totally unique. ANYWAYS, for those not into dumpster diving portfolios or not necessarily confident in your art choosing abilities, we compiled some of our favorite non-flea but generally affordable art pieces, specifically within the watercolor family. Because who doesn't love a good, colorful, abstract watercolor.
Brimfield is like your favorite flea market on crack times a million. Which is very fun for the first 4 hours and then the hangry sets in and you no longer want to negotiate "just a few more booths" with your seriously hot, swollen feet and you've forgotten what you were supposed to be looking for and the sun is beating down on you and then you die. But yet, we are always excited when it arrives. There are great finds, great prices, it's generally a fun day as long as you're prepared to be overwhelmed at times.
Along with sharing our finds, we'll be offering a few tips to avoid all of the above and also where to find the donuts.
Tip #1: Always Be Closing. JK but most people will negotiate on price which is great. Sometimes, we feel a piece is worth the price, or it's already very low, but most of the time that's not the case so it never hurts to ask. Vendors will usually mention if they are flexible on price because they want to push their product to make room for new stuff.
Tip #2: If you have the time or are close enough to go for multiple half days, that might be the best. We ALWAYS buy all our stuff the first half of the day. The second half is spent wondering what the meaning of life is. (But it is really hard to leave. We tried and failed because there's so much to see and the fear of missing something is tremendous.) Also, when you go multiple days, you will have the chance to do the fields that weren't open the day before.
Tip #3: Wear shoes you don't care about because they will get trashed!
Tip #4: It was so hot the day we went that public schools closed early. So yeah. Prepare your pits accordingly.
Tip #5: We don't have any solutions for the best days to go, because some fields are open some days and some aren't. We usually go the first day because you don't want all the good stuff to be gone. But ultimately, not everyone is looking for the same stuff and some vendors don't show up until later in the week. So this one isn't really a tip.
Tip #6: Make a list and bring swatches!!! I was pretty proud of my shopping capabilities up until my first and subsequent Brimfields. I thought I was the energizer bunny of shopping but NO. Not here. It's so much to look at and you forget everything you wanted to keep an eye out for. So make a list of everything you'd like to leave with and glance at it throughout the day for a reminder.
Tip #7: Write down booths that you like and their location for next time. We spent probably an hour trying to remember where one booth was from our last visit and never found it!!! (Probably in an unopened field.) Get the app for your phone if you want to be all legit.
Tip #8: Miscellaneous. Bring lots of cash and your own cold water! Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. Bring your own reusable shopping bags to avoid carrying everything in a plastic grocery bag from the vendor. And go early.
Tip #9: Avoid mid-day tantrums with Dell's Frozen Lemonade and Faddy's Donuts. IT WILL GET YOU THROUGH!