Antique Show

May 2016 Brimfield Show Recap

Brimfield is back! Not that it ever went away, but the May 2016 show was almost unanimously the biggest and best in years. The traffic was backed up on Route 20 for miles every day, which hasn't happened in years. The weather was almost perfect and the fields were chock full of dealers and shoppers all doing what they came to do.

We had an exciting, fun and exhausting week there promoting the smartphone app we developed specifically for Brimfield. Being in our position, completely independent of any show management, comes with lots of challenges. However, it also gives us a unique vantage point of the show as a whole. In addition to having our finger on the pulse of social media for the show, we talk to hundreds of dealers across practically every field, field owners, staff, food vendors and thousands of shoppers throughout the week. 

Brimfield is not for the faint of heart. It's not the easiest show to shop and it's even more difficult to work there. The dealers and food vendors are some of the hardest working people I know. Many booths take days to set up and it's not easy work. The show days are long and some start at sunrise. You are outside and exposed to fickle New England weather which can be extreme. Most dealers are far away from home, either staying in hotels or sleeping at the field at night. All of this can be a lot of fun but it can also take a lot out of you. 

We are local so we usually sleep at home every night. This week we decided to stay on Monday to be there bright and early on opening day. Of course it was 32 degrees overnight! But sweet little Wilma (our vintage camper) kept us relatively warm and we loved being there to see the crazy show opening!

Click here to read more about our vintage camper renovation
One trend we definitely noticed were the large number of younger shoppers at this show. This has been building for a while as social media seems to be playing a huge part in creating awareness of what, when and where Brimfield is. Dealers kept commenting to us about the noticeably younger demographic. Brimfield has something for everyone at every price range, but this younger generation seem particularly interested in farmhouse style, mid-century modern and industrial decor. Vintage clothing was one of our most searched for categories and we spoke to many shoppers who came to the show specifically to seek out the growing number of dealers who specialize in it. 

Bird Brain Vintage has a cheerful vintage clothing booth
The Mahogany Ridge Fashion Tent is a multi-dealer vintage clothing extravaganza
Industrial salvage at Scrapped and Found  
Vintage Retriever always has a beautifully styled booth of farmhouse decor
Kingsbury Antiques always has beautiful mid-century pieces
Regardless of age, there were also a huge number of first time shoppers. They were all having a great time but there was literally no end to the stream of overwhelmed, confused first time shoppers who were happy for any help. Of course we always suggest that both new and veteran shoppers download the app to make navigating the show a bit easier. It has a handy show schedule, an overview map of the fields, all the port-a-potty locations, info on food vendors and it can help you find dealers you may have missed otherwise. Download it before you come to help you plan out some must-see booths. If you still need help at the show, use it to find us! We are always happy to help if we can and we are there every day. 

Tools & Things
The Textile Trunk
The number one question shoppers always have, is how they can find specific items or dealers. There is way too much ground to cover and there is no way to see every booth. This results in too many people leaving without that special thing they came for. A shopper once said to us "But walking around looking is what Brimfield is all about." A man overheard our conversation and replied "You know what's even better than looking for an item? Finding it." We couldn't agree more! Meandering around the show is part of the Brimfield experience but wouldn't it be nice to make the most of all those miles you are going to walk anyway?

Last week we had a shopper tell us they had been searching for comic books for three hours and had only found one booth. Another was looking for musical instruments and not having luck. Those items were absolutely there somewhere and if people can't find what they want, they are less likely to keep coming back! We are working hard at each show to sign up more and more dealers. We want it to keep growing into a live up-to-date directory that helps shoppers find what they came to the show for. If you searched for something in the app and didn't get the results you wanted, try again at the next show!

Between now and the July show we will also be analyzing the 10,000+ searches done in the app during the May show and using that data to help us target more dealers. We will also use it to help existing dealers optimize their keywords. We want everyone going home happy!

This show brought lots of new shoppers but there were also a lot of new dealers. I have a feeling this is a trend that will continue as well. These dealers are learning how to do Brimfield their own way, just like the more experienced dealers did at one time. Using technology to connect to buyers seems to come naturally to them.

Maison Decor and Pioneer Goods combined efforts for their first Brimfield
Dan Kierstead Auctions set up at the September 2015 show for the first time
Emily Shellenberger was also set up for her second Brimfield
Fox Den Antiques was a first time dealer and is also a Brimfield resident
The show started off strong and kept it's momentum up going into the weekend. Saturday and Sunday were both busy fun days too. The atmosphere was a bit different, but it always is. The crowd changes from mostly serious buyers to mostly casual shoppers just there to enjoy the sights and food and buy a trinket or two. But we heard lots of dealers say they sold more larger  pieces over the weekend than they typically do and everyone was generally in good spirits.

Eat Sleep Vintage
We had a very interesting and busy week of networking, promoting the app to shoppers, promoting our dealers to shoppers, signing up new dealers, supporting our existing dealers and helping shoppers. There was never a dull moment and nothing pleases us more than dealers having such a successful show. We hope the momentum will continue into July and September. Speaking of which, be sure to mark your calendars for the July and September show dates!

Did you attend the May show? If you did, we would love to see what you brought home! Share your #brimfieldfinds with us on Facebook and Instagram. I'll leave you with a few more shots of last week while I get back into the swing of normal non-Brimfield life.

Thanks for following!

Silver Hippopotamus
The Mahogany Ridge Fashion Tent
the good home

What Does Brimfield Mean To You?

Flea market season is right around the corner and the Brimfied buzz is starting to pick up. Dealers are starting to get their inventory ready, shoppers are planning their trips, local businesses are preparing for the swarms of people and we are signing up dealers and getting a new update to the app ready for release.

Brimfield is one of the most well known flea markets in the world, but it is also still a premier antiques and collectibles show. Some of the dealers (and shoppers!) in Brimfield are incredibly knowledgeable about the items they specialize in. In general, they are also very willing to share information with shoppers and other dealers. They love talking about their fields of expertise and helping people add to their collections. Many of these specialized dealers are the backbone of the show and have seen it shrink and grow and change many times over the years. 

While high-end antique and collectibles dealers maintain a strong presence at the show, in the past few decades Brimfield has also become a mecca for stylists and designers of all kinds: Interior designers, set designers, costume and fashion designers, visual merchandisers, wedding and event planners, food and restaurant stylists, furniture and textile designers. You can find them all walking the fields. Sometimes they're filling entire shipping containers to furnish a flagship store or trendy restaurant. Sometimes they're buying specific pieces as props for a period movie or television set. Sometimes they're just taking photos and jotting down notes. We have met people with the most interesting careers and interests in Brimfield and that never gets old!

Then, of course, there are casual shoppers. Some are looking for items for their home and some are just there to enjoy the atmosphere with family and friends. People enjoy seeing items from their childhood and taking in the visual inspiration at every turn. 

The mix of people from all walks of life and all over the world is one of our favorite parts of the show. Everyone is thrown in it together and we like to describe it all as "beautiful chaos." 

We honestly love hearing everyone's stories about Brimfield and would love to hear yours! What does Brimfield mean to you? How long have you been attending? Why do you come year after year? Is your interest in the show personal or professional? What's your favorite Brimfield memory? What will you be looking for this year?  

And while everyone is looking forward to a strong 2016 show season, let's take a look back at how much fun we had in 2015!

September 2015 Show Recap

Reclaimed Charm
As always, dealers had mixed experiences at the September Brimfield show. A few said it was their worst show in years. A few had great shows. As usual, most fell somewhere in the middle and many acknowledged that their expectations were thrown off by such uncharacteristically strong July sales. The sweltering heat can also slow things down and it was really hot the first few days of the show. You expect that in July, but September is usually a bit more comfortable. The weather later in the week was great, but a threat of rain may have kept people away on Friday and Sunday. But the shoppers who are there never seem disappointed. Whether they are veteran buyers or a first-timer just taking it all in, people are generally happy to be there.

As far as the app is concerned, the September show was a big success for us. We had a lot of momentum heading into the show and a lot of things came together giving us a strong finish to the year. 
Our recent partnership with lead to a big increase in site traffic and downloads in the two weeks leading up the show. The site is one of the leading sources of online information on the show and their FAQ section is now chock full of information about the app. We are so appreciative of this exposure. It's good for us, good for dealers and good for the show attendees!
Country Bumpkin

A few days prior to the show, The Republican/ did an article about Brimfield with the following quote from the president of the Brimfield Promoters Association and owner of Hertan's field:
"We have a Smartphone APP that can be downloaded before heading out to the shows that can help you locate specific items, and it's all coordinated with a GPS that can direct you right to a dealer you might be looking for..."   
We also experienced a bump in dealers signing up to be listed and our strong download numbers continued through the entire show. The combination of exposure from, the news article, our distribution of signs throughout the show fields, our prominent locations at New England Motel and Central Park and a larger social media presence resulted in the highest number of downloads for any show so far.
  • iPhone downloads during the six days of the show totaled 1,220
  • Saturday of the show we broke our all time daily record with 368 downloads!
A strong finish to the 2015 season brings total downloads (Android and iPhone) to just over 8,500 and 23,000 individual searches for specific items/categories/dealers. The app is definitely being used by shoppers and more and more people are learning about it at each show!
Tin Lizzy/Red Herring
Kazak Rugs
We always have fun at the show, but it's particularly satisfying to receive so much positive feedback from dealers and users. So many users came up to us at the camper to tell us that they loved using the app and it helped them find what they were looking for or gave them ideas of specific dealers they wanted to find. And many dealers told us that people found them using the app and made big purchases.

Dealers are definitely starting to realize how effective the app is. One of my favorite stories from the show happened on Tuesday. A well-established vintage textile dealer at New England Motel ran up to us saying she NEEDED to be in the app. She told us two customers had called her earlier in the week and asked her why she wasn't doing Brimfield. They thought she wasn't going to be there because she wasn't in the app. That's a huge win for us! Later in the week we followed up with her and she said that a few people had mentioned finding her because of the app. She enthusiastically signed up for all three shows next year!

Juniper Vintage
Anthony Rosa Modern
My Mother and Me
Social media continued to play a huge part in our success  throughout the entire year. We use a combination of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and this blog to help promote Brimfield as a whole, the app and our individual dealers. We saw a steady increase in Facebook followers during this show but our biggest increase was Instagram. We started the May 2015 show with 500 followers and we currently have 2,400!

Social media is another way for us to get feedback from users. Following the show we received this tweet:

Ideally, this user would have found out about the app prior to the show. But next year she will have it from the get go and will be able to find the dealers she is looking for. It's also a perfect example of why we urge dealers to mention the app in their social media posts. Sometimes giving your field name and site number isn't enough because so many attendees don't know where one field ends and another begins. If I was a dealer, I would want customers to be able to find me easily and (even more importantly) BEFORE they spent their money at other booths while they were searching for me. We even had app users tell us they chose which field to park on by looking at the app and which field had the dealers they were most interested in.

Das Bulli Haus

MBC Tools
We've said from the beginning that we would give this little business our best effort for six shows. The September 2015 show was our sixth. It hasn't gone exactly as we expected or hoped but it has been an interesting and fun challenge. We have learned so much, worked so hard and we are more excited than ever at the potential it has. We seem to be approaching a tipping point where dealers and shoppers accept the app as part of the new normal way to do Brimfield. And while we are looking forward to a few months of "downtime," we are fondly looking back on #brimfield2015 and really excited about what #brimfield2016 will bring. We have exciting changes and features planned for our website and the app which we will fill everyone in on early next year.

In the meantime, thank you so much to each and every person that played a part in our success this year. An extra special thank you to our close family and friends that help us survive those crazy weeks. We couldn't do it with out you.

As we look back on #brimfield2015, I'm feeling nostalgic already. Our Brimfield family has expanded to include so many new people we may never have met otherwise. Being around so many hard working creative people has been inspiring and fun for us and our girls. And as challenging as having two little people there can be sometimes, I love how it exposes them to new food, new people and new (old?) objects that spark the best conversations. Brimfield always has and always will hold a special place in our hearts. Now it's even more special to us and we can't wait to be back there in May!

Thanks for following!

P.S. For more photos of the show, please view our September 2015 Album on Facebook. If you are a dealer and see your booth please tag yourself as Facebook doesn't let me tag pages consistently.

Revival Antiques
Knock on Wood
the good home
Vintage Retriever
Cary Goodrich

September 2015 Dealer Profile: the good home

One of my favorite parts of developing the Brimfield Flea Finder app, has been meeting so many talented passionate people who love what they do. This series of Brimfield Dealer Profiles will highlight a small sample of dealers that can be found using the app. I'm thrilled to help shine a little more light on these businesses that they work so hard building and running every day.

the good home
New England sourced vintage and antiques with an emphasis on housewares, tools, small furniture and linens. Quaker Acres, site 82. Use the Brimfield Flea Finder app to find the good home booth at the show or their contact info between shows.

Richard and Nancy Lucier are the dynamic duo behind the good home. Unlike most of the dealers in the app who we met over the past two years, I have known Richard and Nancy for 35 years. They are one of the main reasons we live in Massachusetts, why we are so involved with Brimfield and what inspired us to create the app. They are my parents. So I might be a little biased, but I think they are pretty great!

My parents have been drawn to high quality vintage items for as long as I can remember. I grew up knowing that older stuff was better. As kids, we loved going to yard sales on the weekends. Or better yet, a trip to the town dump to see what treasures people had left behind! Our kitchen table was reclaimed lumber on top of cast iron sewing machine legs way before that was trendy. 

Then about ten years ago my uncle purchased antiques in Hungary and had them shipped back to the U.S. and began selling them. He set up in Brimfield and my parents would help him set up and my mom would help him during the week. After a few years he had sold most of his original stock and wasn't interested in continuing to buy or sell. My parents were interested in becoming dealers and began sourcing their own goods to add to the remaining inventory. They started to attend auctions and now they had a really good excuse to buy stuff at yard sales. 

They have been setting up in the same spot at Quaker Acres for six years now and they have gotten better and better at what they do. They don't have a shop or sell online and Brimfield is the only show they do (for now), so they work all year prepping for it. Their set up is unique due to their specific site and they have it down pat. They bring their vintage camper (the inspiration for us getting our own) for some comforts of home during the day. Because they are local they don't have to do a marathon set up. They use their own tents and set them up the week before and gradually bring a few trailer loads of merchandise at a time. They are usually still showing up with car loads of stuff on Wednesday and Thursday of the show which is why we sometimes joke there is more there at the end of the show than they started with! But that also means they always have fresh merchandise!

They do get a lot of repeat customers despite being generalists. My mom likes to say it's because they have a good mix of things for men and women so couples stick around the booth longer. It's also probably because they are really friendly and love what they do. They both tend to buy what they love. My mom is drawn to pyrex, kitchenware, planters, vintage textiles, and furniture while my dad buys a lot of tools, lamps, trunks and toolboxes. Over the years, as they have gained more experience, they have learned to branch out a bit and and they have become really knowledgeable about a lot of what they sell. They also love learning from their customers. Whenever anyone buys something who is a collector they pick their brain a bit and learn something new.

Up until last year they had to work the shows around my dad's school year. He was an electrical instructor at a local vocational high school. I started spending more time at the show with my mom during the May and September shows when he was at work which is how Ryan and I started to get more involved in the show (and saw how much the app was needed). My dad is now retired from teaching but still does electrical work. But his schedule is flexible and it allows them to focus more time on sourcing merchandise for the shows.

He is drawn to lamps and lighting because of his electrical background. He rewires lamps to sell frequently and has also made some really cool light fixtures out of all sorts of repurposed materials. Here are a few of my favorites:

They are definitely two of our biggest supporters. There are app signs all around their booth and so many people have told us "I found out about the app from your parents!" My dad has been known to set up special seating for customers but once you sit down you have to download the app. He's that good!

If you are at the show, I hope you get the chance to go see the good home on Quaker Acres and please tell them that we sent you!

Thanks for following!


Welcome to Life to the Brim!

Well, this is it. My very first blog post on my very first blog. I'm going to start with a confession. I don't follow a ton of blogs. I have no idea what people say in their initial posts. I was going to do some research to find out but then I decided I would just wing it! I didn't want to overthink it or have a strategy. So here it goes! 

This blog will be a place where a lot of my interests intersect. Will it be too general? Possibly. But if you are interested in Brimfield, vintage and antiques, home decor, cute kids, DIY projects, New England, vintage campers, food or nice people, you will probably like it. I hope you do!

I came up with the name for the blog because I think it's fun play on words. Brimfield is a big part of our life these days.  That's for sure.  But our life is full to the brim in so many other ways.  It's full of beauty. Full of building memories. Full of long term plans and short term obstacles. Full of parenting successes and fails. Full of figuring things out as we go. We are always trying to get the most out of everything we do without losing sight of what we already have and we have two precocious girls who keep us in check. They simultaneously make time speed up and force us to slow down. 

We are just a few weeks away from switching over to full Brimfield mode again (how did that happen already?!). Summer hasn't even officially started yet but it already feels like it's flying by. We have so much going on and it gets crazy (to say the least) at times but our life truly is full to the brim in so many ways.  I hope you enjoy hearing a little bit about our adventures and will follow along or stop by now and then to check in!

Here's an overview of posts you can expect to see over the next few weeks: