The show’s official website is a veritable wealth of well-organized knowledge and cutting-edge design. Kidding! It looks like they made it on Geocities. Still worth checking out for all the show opening times though, and for helpful advice. I especially like numbers 3, 7, and 8: “Watch what you wear – don’t overdress. The trick is to look pretty much like everyone else”; “If you’re a casual or a serious collector, get a tee-shirt made up that says: ‘I COLLECT (whatever)’. You’ll be amazed at the people who come up to you“; and of course “Go when it’s raining.”
DO NOT do those things. Should go without saying. You will, however, see people doing precisely those things.
DO show up early and be ready for sun, rain, and lots of walking. Drink lots of water; Brimfield is an endurance event. Bring cash; some dealers take credit cards, but cash is king; the only ATMs at Brimfield have a $200 limit per transaction with an excessive fee tacked on. Haggle, but don’t lowball. Be respectful; the dealers are just trying to make a living, and they definitely aren’t getting rich either way. Try to spot some celebs. Tara met Diane Keaton five years ago!
You’ll find better deals at the end of the week, since nobody wants to pack up the same things they hauled all the way out there a week earlier. But you’ll also miss out on tons of great stuff that the earlybirds snatched up before anyone else even saw it.
F I E L D S
Brimfield is actually twenty-some separate flea market fields all clustered together. Some are open for just one day, others for the whole week, and the rest fall somewhere in between. These are the openings that we try to hit every year:
The Meadows: Not actually an opening but always our first stop. Open all week, no admission charge. Lots of big tents toward the back with European vendors whose beautiful finds are usually refreshingly unfamiliar. In other words, the best stuff! Pricier than you’d hope for at a flea market, but way less than you’d pay for Danish modern in a nice shop. And less than you’d pay for new crap!
Quaker Acres: Open all week, no admission charge. Mixed bag of vendors and always some good cheap finds in here.
Green Acres and other fields along the road that are open all week: Go in your free time between other openings. You never know!
Dealer’s Choice and Brimfield Acres North: Open Tuesdays at 11am and 1pm respectively. $5 admission. Go if you have some time to kill. If not, don’t bother. They’re way down the road to the West and we’ve never bought anything at either, from what I can remember. Plus, you’ll see most of the same vendors at Heart O The Mart on Wednesday, Mays on Thursday, and J+J on Friday. The one-day shows tend to attract all the same vendors making the rounds. They supposedly re-up from their warehouses throughout the week, but who knows.
New England Motel: Opens Tuesday at 6am, $5 admission. At this point, I honestly don’t think I can recommend getting up before dawn and waiting by the gate for this one. Tara and I set up at NE Motel the year we sold at Brimfield, but it seems to have gone downhill the six years since. Most of the quality vendors have packed up and moved elsewhere. It’s harder and harder to justify the wakeup time and the admission charge, when you can find better stuff elsewhere with no admission fee.
Heart O The Mart: Opens Wednesday at 9am, $5 admission. Large field, always some great stuff!
Hertan’s: Opens Wednesday at 12pm. No admission, but also no good stuff for the most part.
May’s: Opens Thursday at 9am. $5 admission and always a huge crowd waiting on both sides of the road. Great furniture and other vendors toward the back usually.
J&J: Opens Friday at 8am. $5 admission but honestly, we usually head home after May’s on Thursday. Even that might not be worth it anymore. Tuesday and Wednesday are the best!
F O O D
Brace yourself for some really poor descriptions of where things are.
So you’ve got your big food court on the North side of the road, tucked into the front of New England Motel, right? Don’t go there unless you’re dying for some pizza or fried something. Across the road and a hair East, there’s a strip of way better food options. There’s the Wrap and “Pilgrim Sandwich” truck (decent breakfast wraps); the Ben & Jerry’s stand (you should already know how good it is…love us some Milk & Cookies, Tonight Dough, and Cherry Garcia); and the only place to get a decent cup of coffee (though you might have to wait a while, you’ll get to enjoy some questionable preparation practices).
Right around the corner from Slowsky’s Coffee is perhaps the only place to eat where you won’t feel gross after: Hearty Eats. They do a Thai noodle salad, a falafel salad, and other lovely food and drink options. All great!
A C C O M M O D A T I O N S
Book ’em early! We’ve stayed all over the place–hotels, B&Bs, Airbnbs–everywhere but the back of a moving truck, which is where a lot of the vendors sleep.
We’ve never stayed anywhere I’d recommend, not even close. Everything nearby stinks. Your best bet is the closest hotel chain you can find. Really, closer the better, since the traffic can get pretty backed up coming in from the East most mornings.
Good luck and see you out there!