Insider Tips For Your Next Outdoor Antique Show

May 7, 2024
outdoor antique show
Photo by Nikola Đuza on Unsplash“”

This month many of you will be heading out on a trip to the holy grail of antiques fairs and flea markets that is the Brimfield Antiques Fair in Brimfield Massachusetts. In case you don’t know, Brimfield is a massive outdoor antique show and flea market in south central Mass. The show basically takes over the town of Brimfield for a week. It’s held three times per year: May, July and September. And if you’re going to Brim or any of the other shows on the calendar you’ll want to review these tips for outdoor antique shows before you go.

“When you’re visiting an antiques fair, turn left once you’ve passed through the entrance. Everyone else will turn right, which means you can get to the bargains before them.”

Judith Miller

After years and years of attending this show, and others like The Round Top in Round Top, Texas, my friends and I have learned a thing or two or twelve that make these shows easier and more enjoyable. So, I’m sharing some of my tips for outdoor antique shows here today to help you navigate these big (and small) outdoor shows. So whether you’re heading to Brimfield or The Round Top in October or one of the smaller local shows popping up all over this summer, I hope you enjoy it and that you benefit from my well-earned blisters…

My selection of shoes for Brimfield.

Tips For Outdoor Antique Show: Wear Good Shoes…No Matter How Ugly

It’s no secret… I love a good shoe. I have gobs and gobs of them – the cuter, the better, in my book, with one exception… not at Brimfield! Or Round Top or any other big flea market or show for that matter. How your feet go, so goes the day. If your feet hurt, no amount of treasure is going to make up for it. One blister and the show’s literally over for me. So I wear Tevas – yup, one of the ugliest shoes next to Birkenstocks, when it’s hot – and sometimes in the rain. I wear my Wellies (OK, they are actually passably cute) and I also wear my old running shoes (not the good ones, because there is most often MUD, sometimes ankle deep).

On occasion I wear my cowboy boots (also, passably cute) because what all these shoes have in common is that I can walk in them for hours without pain or blisters. My feet have to come first at these shows no matter how much I secretly, or not so secretly, want to look cute. Take my advice on this one and you most assuredly will start out the show on the right foot… Hah! It was such a softball, my apologies, but I couldn’t resist it.

Tips For Outdoor Antique Shows: Bring Water… Lots of It! And Pack A Lunch

These shows often cover a huge amount of square footage and to see it all you will have to cover that amount of area too. Hydration, therefore, is key. If you’re hydrated you feel good and if you feel good you’ll have fun! I often freeze a bottle or two and throw them in with the rest in a cooler, to keep all of the water nice and cool. Or I will fill my Yeti with ice and water, and continue to refill it with more water as the day goes on.

Food is another issue – these fairs offer a lot of different fast food – but most of it is greasy and fried. The worst thing on a hot day for me is a bucket of lead in my tummy. It makes me feel gross. If I feel gross I will not be having a good time. So I pack a lunch, something healthy and light, with protein to keep me going. You’ll be glad if you do as well.

Antique items
Photo by Gary Sandoz on Unsplash

Tips For Outdoor Antique Shows: Bring A Cart… A Tape Measure (And Your Measurements)…A Magnifying Glass

When you have a lot of area to cover, having a wagon or cart is a lifesaver. It allows you to buy something and then keep shopping, instead of having to take each purchase back to the car, or lug it under your arm. A tape measure is such a small thing, but being able to measure the options on the spot can make the difference between a great score and a miss. Having your measurements with you does the same thing.

You know it will fit where you need it to – it’s priced right – it’s a go! A magnifying glass or loupe takes up so little space but can give you a much better look at maker marks, signatures, dates and the like. It’s worth having one in your backpack. Tissues – for the dust that will definitely be getting in your nose and eyes – and for the port-a-potties – and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Tips For Outdoor Antique Shows: Prepare For ANY Type of Weather… Including Hail (Yes, You Read That Right)!

I was at Brimfield several years ago now and it actually did hail. Believe me, you do not want to be in a field full of antique glass when this happens! People couldn’t dive out of this weather fast enough. It was insane. I’m not sure I could have done much to prepare for hail, but I definitely can prepare for sun, heat, rain and cold. Typically, I bring sun block, multiple layers of clothing, weather-proof jackets for me and bags for my stuff, sun hats and misting bottles. Sometimes, I bring umbrellas, boots and multiple changes of socks. It’s an extra bag of stuff, at most, and it is well worth it when I need it.

Bring Cash… And Don’t Be Afraid To Haggle

The Square has been a godsend for a lot of dealers because they can be in the middle of a farmers field, set up at a show, and offer Visa, MasterCard and Apple Pay to their customers. I have never met a dealer, however, that will turn down cash – and most will give you a discount for it. So bring cash – it is, as they say, king!

For more on the subject, check out my previous blog: Is this An Antique?

Now For A Little Music Before We Go…

Enjoy the hunt and have a lovely day, my friends. Marianne

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