We just got back from our annual almost week long picking trip at the Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield Massachusetts. It is our favorite place to go to peruse acres and acres of someone else’s trash, treasures and everything in between. This year was what felt like the hottest one ever since we have been attending over the last ten years. Not necessarily due to the temperatures but the combination of the temps, the heavy humidity and the rain…
lots of it!
The above Instagram post is not ours but it embodied some of the flooding that Brimfield experienced unfortunately but that did not dampen our spirits on our thrill of the hunt! We always end up back in the room at the end of the day exhausted, hot, sweaty and very dirty but this year was excessive in all of the above. It was all worth it though for we came back with a fourteen foot trailer load being towed by a Yukon with a roof rack…
a pick up truck driven by the ever competent Julie
and another SUV filled to the brim with finds.
We actually couldn’t fit it all so we’ve got to make a trip back up to pick up the rest in August! Now THAT is a successful picking trip!
So how do we get through the many tents and fields that make up Brimfield and get through the mountains of stuff to bring the best picks home to the barn? We as a team, have finally mastered the art of shopping Brimfield. When attending a market such as this one that is so large scale, I highly recommend that you do some digging first before heading out the door. At Brimfield and other markets like Round Top in Texas, each field is known for specializing in a particular form of goods. For example there are the true flea market fields where prices are low and you have to do a lot of discerning picking.
There are fields where retailers come and set up beautifully displayed areas. Prices are higher but they often have some beautiful pieces.
There are fields that have vendors in the them that are from Europe who for the most part, unfortunately were not here this trip around and ones that have super creative artful display with fabulous vintage.
There are fields that have vendors that specialize in hardware and vintage small goods
You can waste time in a filed that does not have what you are looking for, if you are looking for furniture per say and you are in a field that specializes in smalls.
There are always exceptions to the rules though and this is no different here. While we have made notes each year of of our favorite fields and what fields we know we do not want to miss, we rarely come away with nothing in any of the fields.
Each field opens on a particular day of the Tuesday through Sunday event so it is important that once you find out which fields you might want to hit, that you find out when they are open. There are often printed guides that can help you with this as well as online information. There are also fields that are known to be great ones who have lines quite long to get in before they open. These are for the series shoppers for the attendees literally run in when the horn blows.
Since navigating the fields of Brimfield over ten years, there are vendors that we would never miss paying a visit to. We know their style, what they pick and that we often can find many treasures in their tents. Vintage White is one such vendor.
Our Brimfield Picking team and Paul and Terry from Vintage White… vendors who we buy from and have become friends with over the years. Aside from my team…
Paul is the best loading partner ever!
I have had the extreme honor of having three of my dear friends donate their time, energy, sweat and so much more to making this trip a success over the last few years. I am not sure if they are playing with a full deck to volunteer for this position… ha! ha! but it truly is something we look forward to the entire year and we fill up the week with enough laughs to last us even more so, catching up on life amidst the wheeling and dealing. Along with laughter… we work together as a team to score these finds, haggle for them, pay for them, record our purchases and then load them to haul them home.
We have worked out a system that works incredibly well for us and allows us to cover us much ground as possible and it looks something like this.
I peruse each tent, making selections and pulling out what catches my eye. If it doesn’t stick out like a rose amidst thorns, I don’t stop. There is SO much to see and SO much that you really don’t want to see that if you take your time in each booth/ tent, you would never make it out of one field. The girls follow with two wagons and as I pull things, they pile them and then one of us closes the deal.
After paying, which one of the team does, the two Julies tag each and every item with masking tape and what we paid for the item. Julie G is our notetaker and then records in what field and from who we made our purchase, along with prices. It is incredibly important to note where you purchased large items and in what fields you need to pick up in later. We learned that the hard way this year when on our last day, the skies looked like they were about to dump another load of rain on us, the winds were whipping and we did not record our last purchase that we were going to come back for before we left the next day. Well wouldn’t you know… in the hustle and bustle of frantically loading our goods we did pick up before the torrential rains came, we forgot to record that we needed to pick that last item up the next day and we now have to add a little side trip to the vendor to get it when we go back to Massachusetts to pick up the all of the treasures that we couldn’t fit.
Chris often follows along behind me closing the deals and takes photos of unsuspecting deep in thought people along her way. It has taken us a couple of years to nail this down and each year we learn something new but the take aways that we would like to pass along to you are tried and true and things that we find incredibly helpful when on a picking trip aside from the “getting to know where you are going tips” I gave above.
So here our our Five Picking Trip Tips and Tricks:
- Clothing ~ Wear your most comfortable shoes and ones that are appropriate for the conditions that you might experience. Even if those shoes are some of your oldest like these almost ten year old Merrils that are so worn but still so comfortable. You are going to be on your feet for a long time and the worst thing in the world is to get a painful blister from a newly purchased pair of boots or the likes. A picking field is not the place to try them out…
and navigating muddy fields requires boots or old sneakers. In line with your shoes is your clothing. Consider heat and the forecast. We troll the weather apps to make sure that we have rain gear if we are going to get caught in a storm and note the temps so that we can dress accordingly. I for one wear the most old fashioned 15 year old picking pants, as I like to call them. Made by Esprit, they have the most pockets are the most comfortable and have the most patched areas of any pants I own. I will gladly pay well if anyone knows where I can get another pair! If the sun is going to be a constant, a hat is always a good idea… but if you are loading your trailer at the end of the day, a cute fashionable hat can be problematic so go with a tried and true small brimmed one.
2.Bring things that can collect your treasures for your car is often parked quite a distance away to make repeated trips.
We love pulling these heavy duty sport wagons behind us for they can be filled with quite a bit of goodies which not only frees up your hands but like mentioned above, reduces your trips to the car.
A back pack is also a great idea. Here you can stash your cash, your checkbook and all of the other goodies that will behove you to have on the fields.
Either a heavy duty leather one or a sports pack are great options.
3. In your bag make sure to pack the following things that you most likely will need on the fields:
Water!!! Water !!! and more water!!! Use a refillable water bottle so you can continuously refuel.
Hand sanitizing wipes for your hands are often dirty and you are often far from a port o potty hand washing station.
A tape measurer for the unknown measurements that you know you will need.
Sunscreen and bug spay!
Water… water… and more water…
A notebook and pen to record your purchases and if you have to pick any up at the end of the day.
Masking tape in case you want to mark on your items the price paid.
An emergency rain poncho… just in case.
4. Snacks, snacks and more snacks! You will often either not want to stop to purchase food or you will not be near any food so when hunger strikes… be prepared.It also keeps your mind sharp when making the many decisions that you will be making… like… ” Do I really need that?”
5.Bring your own bags!!! Since you are doing your part in shopping recycled and vintage to help the Earth, consider the packaging as well. Many of the vendors have plastic bags to pack up your goods in… bring your own reusable collection of bags. Not only for their Earth friendliness but for their durability and strength! With those bags, bring an appreciation for what you are going to see. A creative eye to see how you might use something that someone else is recycling. There is much value in someone else’s items.
I hope that you find this blog post helpful in your own picking travels. If you have any questions on anything else that you would like to know, please ask! We love to share our secrets. We made a multitude of decisions on this trip and we are so excited to have unloaded the treasures into the barn to now clean up, make like new, process, price and put into our vignettes for the upcoming Fall Sale. Here is a sneak peek at some of our faves.
Wait until you see it all set up in the barn this Fall!