Always have had Brimfield, MA on my list of places I would someday love to visit and attend their highly-acclaimed antique show. Although that may not happen anytime soon–next best thing? Having Jenn of Bellflower Bay be my correspondent and report back to us jewelry lovers with the inside scoop! Take it away, Jenn!
Brimfield, MA Antique Show
Dates: The show runs three times a year: once in May, once in July and once in September (Check the website for the exact dates). While May and September usually boast more dealers and nicer weather (though you can never plan for rain) we found great deals at the July show, mostly because by mid-afternoon, everyone seemed too hot to haggle. So if you can handle the heat…
Where to Stay: There aren’t any real hotels in the area—only some B&B’s— so your best bet is to stay in the nearby town of Sturbridge. It’s about 15 minutes away by car, but make sure you book rooms in advance!
The Lowdown: Brimfield is not one large antiques show, but rather an outdoor extravaganza, comprised of 21 separate fields, all run independent of one another and loaded as far as the eye can see with everything you could ever want. Or things you didn’t think you wanted, but suddenly do. I had to restrain my mother from purchasing a larger-than-life size Green Giant—she was at the “we could tie this to the top of the car, right?” stage.
The show is outdoors and runs down Route 20, a main stretch of the town–which is pretty antique in its own right, founded in 1731.
Since the different fields are all run independently, there’s not a really a great directory for the dealers, or types of dealers that will be there, but the website does cover the basics (www.brimfield.com). The best way to describe the overall set up: imagine a big outdoor flea market. Now multiply that by 21.
Full disclosure: we have never made it all the way through Brimfield to all 21 fields, but we have done about 75%. Our best finds come from two fields that are conveniently across the street from one another: May’s and J & J Promotions. Since the fields are all operated independently, they all have different opening schedules. JJ’s didn’t open until Thursday this time, and some of the fields charge an entry fee (usually around $5) on the first day they are open. Some fields open on the first day, usually a Tuesday, and they open bit by bit during the week, but all of the fields are open by Friday. Make sure to plan your trip accordingly.
Don’t plan on getting through the whole show: each field is loaded with vendors, and the fields are not separated by specialty. If you’re there for jewelry, be prepared to keep an eye out for black display boxes on a tabletop and also be prepared for disappointment when you walk over and find a bunch of army medals under glass. Expect varying levels of organization: some dealers will have everything catalogued beautifully and others will have rings lying haphazardly in a box. Do not underestimate the sloppy display: often those dealers have hidden gems and are more willing to move on the price. And if you take nothing else from this guide, do remember this: ALWAYS ask (politely) if the price you’re given is the best price! As a general rule, dealers will move a little bit, even if it’s only $20, but that’s another $20 for you to spend.
Tips/Tricks: Make sure you dress in comfortable clothing and more importantly: comfortable shoes. To get from field to field, you’ll be walking along the road, and the fields are all “paved” in loose stones and pebbles, which sneak right into low flats and sandals.
The best time to arrive is somewhere around 8:30 am. The fields open at different times, some as early as 6, but we’ve found somewhere around 8:30 to be a sweet spot: not so early that you have to compete with the dealers buying 30 or 40 pieces (leaving the vendors with little patience for someone who dawdles over one item), but not so late you’re stuck behind the meandering “how did I get here?” folk. Also, sleep in a little! You’ll be walking a lot and you’ll need it, trust me. The road leading to the stretch of fields is really the only way to the show, and it is a two lane, slow-moving set-up. If you go later, you’ll definitely get stuck in the thick of late arrivals and traffic does not move quickly. Also, there is plenty of $4-$6 parking before you get to the first field, and some parking mixed in with the fields. However, remember that you will be competing with all of the road and foot traffic when you are leaving. We found parking in a lot prior to the first field is the best bet—there are two churches that are fairly close and each have ample parking. At most, you’ll have to walk maybe ¼ mile, which is a good time to get your game plan in order. MAKE SURE YOU NOTE WHERE YOU PARKED. SERIOUSLY.
They do sell food there, and if you didn’t take time for breakfast (which, not to get all naggy here, but you should definitely have before you start talking money) then there are plenty of cute stands with bagels, homemade donuts, coffee, and the like. Towards the center of the show, there is a makeshift food court with a bunch of different options, including fresh lobster rolls and vegan food. Food/ water/ coffee are fairly easy to come by. Port-a-potties not quite as much. Yes, they’re around, but you may have to hunt a little. Also, if you are not a port-a-potty person (and really, who amongst us is?) then there is an actual bathroom somewhere in the show that we never managed to find. My advice? Just limit your liquids. Or bring hand sanitizer. Maybe both.
What was Purchased: All the gorgeous rings, stacked on Jenn’s hand in the above picture–all of which are for sale in her Etsy shop–Bellflower Bay. Of course, any jewelry collector or shop owner can’t go away empty handed. Jenn fell in love with an exquisite emerald, rose cut diamond bird necklace. So unique!