How To Survive Brimfield Flea (or Any Antiques Fair or Flea Market)

Brimfield Antiques Flea Market in Brimfield, Massachusettes is considered to be the oldest outdoor flea market in the U.S. going back 50 years.  It runs three times a year and their summer show begins this week, July 10-15th.

Brimfield can overwhelm the most experienced pickers.  It’s huge.  Over 50,000 people attend each show during its six day run.  Thousands of vendors haul their wares to the show and set up booths and markets in what looks like football field after football field of extreme treasure hunting.  Having gone three times now, I’ve acquired some tips and learned some lessons that might make your first trip to Brimfield or any flea market more enjoyable.

1. Gas up your car and leave early.
I’ve gone to Brimfield in the afternoon and in the morning.  Some booths open at sunrise and I’m not that kind of early riser, but I prefer to go in the morning and see where the day takes me.  Also, if it rains in the afternoon, some vendors will start to pack up early.  You don’t want to miss out.

2. Bring water and pack a snack.
There are food vendors on site but I recommend packing water, fruit and/or a sandwich just in case the lines are long and you just need a quick bite to refuel yourself.  There are restaurants around the town of Brimfield as well if you want to take a longer lunch break then go back to the market, but I like to stay on the move and try to get through as much of the show as possible.  

3. Have a plan or at least an area of focus.
You can’t see it all, especially in a day so I recommend starting with a few priorities.  For example, I collect vintage clothing so I always begin in the clothing tent.  When I went in May, I was very interested in vintage jewelry and knew that I wanted to spend more time looking at the jewelry collections.  For you, it may be furniture or art or decor, etc.  There is so much to see, you’ll find having a plan of attack comforting in the beginning.

Looking ‘expert’

4. Bring a folding cart or backpack.
The first time I went to Brimfield, I only brought a cross body bag with my wallet and had to carry my loot around by hand or run purchases back to the car which can be quite a trek depending on where you park.  Now I’m more prepared with this cart from Amazon.  Some people bring wagons or other 4-wheel carts.  This is a better option if you’re with a buddy.  Some of these booths are small and packed with people, so you’ll want a friend to watch your cart while you shop the booth.  If you’re going solo, you’ll want something more upright or compact that you can take with you everywhere.

Found this vintage necklace at Brimfield Flea in 2017.

5.  Wear sunscreen.
Don’t burn and ruin your day.

I bought this statue at the show this past May.

6. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
You’ll be on your feet for hours and likely walking for miles.  You definitely want to dress comfortably and layer a jacket or clothing in case you get too hot or cold depending on the weather. 

Brimfield Vintage Rings

I bought these vintage rings at Brimfield for $1 per gram, $12 for the pair.

7. Bring cash.
Most vendors have card readers these days but some do not so don’t rely on your card.  There are ATM machines on site but don’t rely on these either.  They could break down and you’ll incur unnecessary fees.  Bring plenty of cash and keep it on your person at all times.

Vintage Lee jeans from Brimfield. They were priced at $70. I offered $50. The vendor sold them to me for $60 and I was happy to get a little deal. I absolutely love them.

8. Feel free to haggle.
Vendors expect to haggle.  Just be kind and respectful.  I usually say something like, “Could you do a little better on the price?” or “ Would you take x amount?”  You’re likely to get better deals later in the day or toward the end of the show.  Be reasonable and don’t offend vendors with ridiculously low offers.  

vintage ysl shoes

Scored these vintage Yves Saint Laurent shoes at Brimfield 2017.

Upcoming show dates: July 10-15 and Sept 4-9.

More important info and a printable brochure available on the Brimfield website.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.