I'm headed to Brimfield, Massachusetts, this afternoon. Brimfield is home to the largest antiques and flea market in the country. Yankee Magazine has dubbed it "the mother of all antiques markets." To say it is large or even huge is an understatement. It is colossal.
Three times a year, in May, July and September the town of Brimfield is transformed into a massive antiques fair featuring 6,000 dealers that are spread out over 23 fields along a mile-long stretch on both sides of Route 20.
A few tips for Brimfield and other Flea Markets
Research and read about your favorite flea markets online.
There's a plethora of information out there on the web to help you along. (For Brimfield, do visit Yankee Magazine's Tips and Recommendations from Brimfield Experts.)
Pick up or print out a map ahead of time. There is a lot to see. Too much to see!
The markets can be loud and crowded - like mid-town Manhattan at the height of the Christmas season. On hot days (July and even September) it can get unbearably sticky and humid.
Bring lots of cash. Smaller bills too. (Cash is better for haggling.)
Use your phone for taking photographs and notes.
Bring a battery charger for your phone.
How to Dress for Brimfield and other flea markets
Dress for comfort not for style. Leave the designer labels at home. You won't want them ruined by dirt and dust. Also you want to be able to haggle. Expect less haggle while wearing your Gucci logo belt.
Wear comfortable walking shoes. Leave the cute ballet flats at home. Sneakers are the best shoe to wear as you hit the pavement. Your paws will be hurting at the end of the day.
Dress in layers. It may be cool when you enter in the early morning hours yet hot when the mid-day sun beats on your shoulders.
Wear a hat with a large brim.
Bring lots of water.
On rainy days the fields can be a slushy mess. Wellies are a must.
Tips for Toting your Brimfield and flea market finds
Lots of people bring shopping carts or waggons to tote along their kind finds.There are also some that can be rented for $35 a day at Brimfield. This may be a good idea. Otherwise, pack like you're headed to a foreign country wanting to bring back treasures. Have several lightweight totes packed inside each other. Larger and heavier items can be picked up later when you return with your car. Bring water. Lots. (You can buy it there but lines can get long. And you'll save a few dollars if you bring your own.)
Below are some of the fields we love - and while you'll certainly find a little bit of everything in every field, certain fields are noted for specific items. (See above map.)
The Meadows: Midcentury and industrial finds
Quaker Acres: Shabby-chic, cottage, vintage
Hertan’s: Imported linens, country furnishings
Midway: Old-time canoes and boats, camp-style goods
Shelton’s: Exotica, including Buddhas, ropes of beads, etc.
Mahogany Ridge: Retro jewelry, vintage clothing
Lest I write about the largest antiques show and not mention the eats! There are good eats here at the market. Don't let the vending carts fool you. I've never had anything bad and I've been many times and eaten many things. If you're starting to get hungry you should find your way to the food court, lines can be a bear - especially during the lunch hours. As with any concession stand at any tourist attraction the food isn't cheap. But I'm telling you it's good. Did I mention that? The New England Motel field is where the food is at. . You'll be able to sit and relax and there's often live entertainment. Here is some of what you'll find there:
BBQ Pork and Chicken, Ribs, Salads, French fries, Lobster rolls, Shore dinners, sausage, hot dogs, burgers, grinders, corn chowder, lobster chowder, pizza, paninis, falafels and more. While it may seem an odd place to order such, if you happen to have a craving for a lobster roll, at close to $14 they're not cheap, but they are delicious - served warm with butter but not so much that it oozes all over you and leaves you feeling gross and greasy. I've had the paninis as well. They're also highly recommended.
Watch out for the hashtag #BrimfieldFinds and be sure to follow @YankeeMagazine, @TheDailyBasics and myself @GimletStyle as we Tweet and Instagram our way through the markets.