If you are following me on Instagram, and I hope you do, you know I recently returned from a four-day flea-marketing and antiquing trip to Brimfield Antique Flea Market in Massachusetts. I’ve been a number of times, and completely enjoy the experience, and always find TONS of treasures! If you’ve never been, let me give you a little tour.
Brimfield Antique Flea Market: A Little History
According to the 2019 Guide to Brimfield Web Site, “There was no way of proving whether [a flea market] would take hold or not, but the first first show was in May 1960. Gordon and Madelyn Reid spent the entire fall, winter, and spring scouring dealers through personal contact, not just through ads in the paper. Some frowned on their idea. Others wished them luck but wouldn’t join us at first. They wound up with just over seventy dealers through that personal contact.
Happily, about 300 people attended their first flea market, and the Reid’s scheduled a second show for September 1960, beginning a twice-yearly schedule that saw the number of dealers increase to 700 and the buyers to nearly 10,000 by 1974.
The town of Brimfield is intimately involved with the shows. Twenty town constables and police officers direct traffic and parking; about thirty teenagers help get the dealers settled, clean restrooms, and run errands; the Congregational Church sponsors a pancake breakfast and roast beef dinner; Girl Scouts, the fire department, and other community groups take turns supervising a parking lot behind the Town Hall; and at least one thrift-minded resident pays his property taxes from the money he makes by allowing people to park on his front lawn.
It’s a BIG BIG Antique Flea Market, y’all!
What to Expect at the Brimfield Antique Flea Market
Today, Brimfield welcomes more than 130,000 visitors a year. Pretty amazing, given how tiny this town really is. The Brimfield Antique Flea Market officially begins on Tuesday. There are approximately 23 Shows or Fields open at various times throughout the week. Each Show or Field, hosts dozens of dealers. Honestly, I don’t really Math all that well, but that’s about 6000 or so different dealers selling anything and everything that qualifies as Vintage or Antique. There’s VERY little new-made-to-look-old being sold, which I like.
Some shows or fields open as soon as the sun comes up, others open at designated times. However, some are open for the entirety of the Brimfield Antique Flea Market, and other Shows or Fields are only open for a few short hours.
How to Shop
- Bring cash. Negotiating a price is always better with cash. There are ATMs throughout the area, and many banks in neighboring towns as well. A FEW dealers take checks. A FEW dealers take Square, or some other kind of app based payment.
- I also suggest a large nylon tote or bag for goodies you may pick up along the way. Many local visitors bring metal baskets on wheels to tote larger items.
- Speaking of large items, there are many “porters” working the Shows and Fields. Thankfully, they will help you collect any large items you purchase and bring those items to the shipper, or your car.
- There are several shippers set up throughout Brimfield. They are experts at wrapping and packing, and arranging air or ground shipping. So, don’t be worried about large purchases. You will be able to ship them home.
What to Wear
I can’t stress comfortable foot-ware enough. And be prepared for wet and muddy conditions. Many of the fields are grass all year long, so when it rains… oh boy. Mud Central. Hats? Yes! There’s little to no shade on the open fields. Layers in May, as it can be 40 degrees in the morning and 60 in the afternoon.
What to Eat
Unlike many Flea Markets, there’s very few food opportunities scattered about. Most of the food vendors are situated near the main road. And the food is really very good! I always get an egg sandwich at The Apple Barn, and the “food court” at the New England Motel field includes Lobster Rolls, Paninis and Gyros! Not a turkey leg in site, y’all! I’ve even seen vendors with pots of homemade soups, and lemonade made from freshly squeezed lemons…while you wait.
Where to Stay
Brimfield is surrounded by many other charming New England towns with national hotel chains, locally owned hotels and motels, etc. However, May and September are really busy, so book early for those months!
How to Get There
Brimfield is about 1 ½ hours from Boston or Hartford, Connecticut. You can fly in to either airport and be the same distance away. Of course, many drive in from all over the country, preferring to have their own vehicle at their disposal.
My Favorite Finds
There’s so much to buy at Brimfield it’s almost mind-boggling. Over the years, my husband and I have drug home so many wonderful things. Vintage pillowcases and textiles. Paintings. Gorgeous antique and mid-century lamps. Tole trays and buckets. Vintage clothes. Vintage Christmas. Antique garden décor. Rustic farm tables and occasional tables and chairs. Vernacular photography. Mid-Century barware. Murano glass dishes.
I could go on and on. We always run out of spending cash. Always. It’s just so fun!!!