Mark you calendars! – September 3-8 will be your last chance to experience the magic and mayhem of Brimfield for the 2013 season. For the uninitiated, Brimfield is the largest outdoor antiques market in the country. Over 5,000 dealers from around the globe converge on this sleepy Pioneer Valley town thrice yearly for 1 week to peddle their wares. Ranging from Pez dispensers to Sterling epergnes fit for the royal family, there are treasures for everyone – you just need to stay focused and keep moving to uncover them.
Of the 3 show months – May, July and September- the upcoming is by far my favorite. Not only is the weather most agreeable for trekking the nearly 1 mile of show grounds, but there is something about the energy of the fall gathering that proves to be the most fun. Additionally, there is the increased chance of a bargain! Many of these dealers will be packing it up for the long winter and would much rather send a few items home in your mini-van then drag them back to warehouses in Hoboken or Istanbul.
Brimfield consists of 21 independent show promoters/ fields – each 3-5 acres in area and packed to the gills with a kaleidoscopic variety of merchandise. Some of the fields, particularly the ones closest to the entrance into town, will be open all week long and are free admission. Personally, I never venture into these as they have a more touristy vibe. I find the best hunting is afforded when you hit the fields at the opening bell. You will pay a small admission fee ($5), but the goods will be fresher and generally of a higher quality.
These are my field faves - in order starting from the top pick.
MAY'S – opens Thursday 9 am.
HEART-O-THE MART – Wednesday 9am
HERTANS – also Wednesday but at Noon, so this can be a two-fer day!
DEALER’S CHOICE –Tuesday 11 am, with a 2nd field across the street that opens at 1.
I have been experiencing the madness of Brimfield for years, initially dragged by my antique dealing family and now willingly volunteering to either scour the fields or guide tentative newbies… The first time can be intense, but quickly you will discover your favorite dealers and fields - this will help to limit the overwhelming sense that you are literally being suffocated by “stuff”. My advice is to either go with a specific item in mind that you are looking for – keep on hand, measurements, pictures and a firm budget, OR, with the expectation of buying nothing. Defining your goals will help to keep you sane and on track.
Final last tips:
- “Cash is king” and will afford you the best bargaining chip – make sure you mention this in conjunction with any offers you make.
- If you make an offer and it is declined, pass through before you leave and re-visit. If your item is still there, chances are the price will be much friendlier as packing up time hastens closer.
- If you buy an item most dealers will hold onto it while you shop – just be sure to get a receipt and mark it with the dealers booth # and phone #. Also, be sure to ask them when they will be leaving. Although the signs say “open til 5”, many will be long gone before that official time, so find out!
- Don’t forget to people watch.. Seriously, the BEST, most concentrated visual explosion of humanity imaginable! I have shared air space with Penny Marshall and a giant, bald drag queen with feather boa and knee-high sparkly combat boots on the same day/ same field - you never know who will turn that corner!
Any further questions, check out the official Brimfield website; http://www.brimfield.com/html/brimfieldfaqvisitors.htm
.. and happy hunting!