Brimfield And Beyond: Getting The Most Out of Antique Shows
From July 9-14, the world-famous Brimfield Antique Show will
once again be open for business. Founded in the 1950s, the show now
draws over 200,000 visitors on show dates every year, and at just a
two-hour drive away from us here in Gloucester it’s well worth the trip.
Brimfield is by far one of the most famous open-air antique shows, but
there are plenty of others – large and small, specialized or not – to
choose from across the country. Yet even some of the smaller shows can
be overwhelming, for veterans or first-timers alike, so it’s a good idea
to know how to make the most of the event.
Know What You’re Looking For
of the best ways to avoid becoming overwhelmed at a show is to know
what you want from it. Some people go to shows hoping to hunt down a
specific item, while others simply want to browse and take in the
atmosphere. Everyone’s goals will be different, and your game plan for
the day should reflect this; if you’re going with several other people,
it might make more sense to split up and reconvene at a set time and
place. Additionally, different shows cater to different kinds of
show-goers. (Brimfield, with its lack of a central authority, can
sometimes be difficult to navigate for those hunting down specific
items.) Check to see if there’s a searchable dealer database on the
show’s website, since this can help you decide on a plan of attack in
antique and collectible dealers are often drawn to shows because of the
people, rather than the potential for profit. Whether you’re looking to
meet fellow collectors, or hoping to find someone to learn from,
finding the right people at a show or fair can be both challenging and
rewarding. The first step is to look online: sometimes meetups of
like-minded collectors are organized at or around the show. These are
rarely organized through the show itself, and many are scheduled at a
local restaurant later in the night. If nothing of this kind is
available (or it just isn’t your style), be prepared to put on your
extrovert face and shake some hands; it can be easier to meet people at
smaller shows, but even the largest can be networking opportunities. If
there’s a lull in the crowd, take advantage of it by talking to dealers
who trade in what you’re looking for, then ask them if you can give them
a call in the future to continue the conversation.
if you don’t plan on taking anything home, it’s important to plan for
the find of your life. Carrying cash makes transactions (and haggling)
easier, but make sure you find a way of securing your money so that you
don’t have to worry about losing it. (Consider picking up a travel belt
to keep it safe.) If you’re looking for a specific item, set and a
budget and keep to it, since seeing a coveted item in person can
sometimes make it difficult to stay rational. In the event that you do
find what you’re looking for, be sure that you have a way to transport
it home safely. Large or fragile items can break in transit,
particularly if you came to the show from far away or by plane – if
that’s the case, then make sure to budget for insuring and transporting
your precious purchase. Once home, it’s unlikely that your homeowner’s insurance will cover collectibles or antiques, so put some thought into finding home contents insurance. Preparing for an emergency is a lot easier than coping with one.
An Ounce of Prevention
that there will be many emergencies to contend with at an antique show,
but preparation is still key to an enjoyable, successful trip. This
starts with the obvious: when attending an open-air show, prepare for
the weather by packing sunscreen, water, and a rain poncho or umbrella.
If you’re likely to purchase small items or paper products, consider
bringing along waterproof or padded carrying cases to keep them safe.
Collectors of specific items might also want to pick up an updated price
guide, both to avoid being overcharged and to recognize a deal.
Brimfield Antique Show is in a class of its own, but even the smallest
shows hold promise and excitement for their attendees. Keep your eyes
peeled and have fun!