Flea Market

A Brimfield Love Story by Eat Sleep Vintage

Brimfield dealers all have their own personal stories of how they found their way to the epic show. Most started as buyers and eventually worked their way into selling. Some have been coming since childhood while others discovered it later in life. In this post, Maureen of Eat Sleep Vintage, is sharing the story of how she fell in love with antiques and how Brimfield found a place in her life. Enjoy!
- Kaitlin

Eat Sleep Vintage. This name personifies me and my love for antiques...I'm not sure how I fell in love with them. I didn't grow up with them in our home, but I remember being about 17, and happened to stop at a garage sale while out and about one day and I found an antique sideboard and it was cheap! Maybe $30...What?? The craftsmanship was beautiful with carvings in the tiger oak. The gentleman told me about the history of it and I had to have it. I got it home somehow and put in the basement, saving it for when I would be out on my own one day. From there my addiction started...scouring flea markets and garage sales, learning about antiques, the beauty of them, the history, and the stories they told. Making numerous friends with dealers and shop owners, and acquiring a ton of things, storing them away for "some day"...I remember my father yelling, when are you going to get rid of that junk, as the basement was now full. It amazed me what could be found out there for little to no money..such treasures! What is wrong with people, don't they realize what this is?? My heart raced just thinking about some of the things I was lucky to find.

Eventually, I did move out and furnished my apartment with all of my finds, and years later, I opened an antique shop! I loved that store and all the years of buying and displaying and telling people the stories of where they were found or what they were, and sharing my excitement for these things...Throughout all of those years, I had always heard of this place called Brimfield. I remember when I was young seeing Martha Stewart on TV at this gigantic Market, having no idea where it was, but my heart....just watching her. I had to go there! As I bought from dealers over the years, they would point to a rare piece and say, I'm saving that for Brimfield...What the heck is this place.......

Finally, in 2004, I said, that's it, wherever this is, I'm going! So I mapped it out and emptied my truck, and off I went. It's was a 3 1/2 hour drive, but well worth the trip. When I got there a day ahead of the show, I ventured out to see what everyone was talking about. I couldn't believe it! Everywhere you looked there were tents and fields and people and things and nonstop antiques, with things you have never seen before. Whatever you collect, it is there. I almost fainted, and thought, I am going to be broke!...and i was..but after a week, my car was loaded to the brim, with things tied to the roof..and had so much fun meeting all of these new people and hearing their stories...What an adventure..I went almost every year.
So fast forward to now...Last year, I decided, my big ideas, I should sell there! Why not? I only run a retail store and a wedding event planning business...I have time...I go there, I shop I love it...why not set up a booth? well...think of it as joining a carnival for a week, because that is exactly what it is like...it takes months of preparing, thinking of how I want my booth to look, finding the right pieces, etc..making signs and tags, envisioning the feel I want when people walk in...renting a giant truck..loading up for 2 days and packing it to the brim..Then driving it up for 3 1/2 hours..Have you ever driven a large rental truck? When you get there, you check in and go scour the fields for a porter to unload you, they're all over the place but you ask for recommendations...and you shop around and you make new friends while you're out..and buy things! You spend money before you even begin...Then there is the set up..setting up your booth like a little store...creating vingnettes and pretty displays..hanging and tagging things, borrowing tools and ladders, getting everything in place in just a day or two... Meeting all of your fellow dealers around you, listening to their tales of the shows before. Most of them will sleep right in their booths or in their cars on the field for the week....O.k..why not? save a few dollars in hotel fees...sure...So I stayed in my truck the last show, thinking, lets try it?, it was now empty and like a little apartment! So I dragged in my blanket and pillow and set it up on the floor, brought in a lamp, with a 100 ft extension cord going out to find power..pulled down the back door part way and viola! So what that it's hot and there are bugs, so what....And you get up in the morning and walk down to the showers...lugging your bags and your clothes...and wait in line to try to freshen up and get ready for the day, venturing out early trying to find coffee and maybe a food truck with something to eat, then back before 6 a.m. as it's opening day!! They are piled up in front of our field in a hoard just waiting for 6 for the gates to open. And so it begins...the madness...the rush of the dealers running through your booths trying to find bargains and get deals..but you wait, there is a whole week ahead of you. And the day goes on and its all a blur, but you've met so many interesting people from all over the world and talked about their finds..and wished you were out there...and after 12 hours, we freshen things up and close our tents and get ready for tomorrow. The dealers on the field walk around and ask how you've done and who sold what and we tell our tales..there are drinks flowing and music playing and we are all exhausted, but we will do it all over again in the morning...I have so many stories from that week, so much fun and have made some great friends...Thanks to my tent mates, who would watch my booth while I ran for "coffee" and perhaps a giant 8 ft barn door that I saw right there!! that I had to buy while waiting in the starbucks line...and we'd scour the new fields on their opening days as others kept watch...Everyone does look out for one another...it's a wonderful group of people, these dealers from all over. All with a love and appreciation for these beautiful things..and it's crazy and so fun and a ton of work, but I will do it all again in May and I can't wait! You see?? my heart! I eat it and sleep it and dream it and love it...and I'll take you along on my journey, but you really should try to come!! See you there!
- Maureen

You can find Eat Sleep Vintage at New England Motel. Use the app to find her exact location using GPS! Follow her on Instagram and Facebook to get sneak peeks at the beautiful items she finds.

Want to learn a bit more about other dealers? Check out some of my previous profiles of Rustored Salvage, Anthony Rosa Modern, Juniper Hill, Knock on Wood Antiques, Heja Home, Walker Homestead, Juniper Vintage, and the good home!

The Brimfield Flea Finder app was developed specifically for the Brimfield Antique Shows. The app is free to download in The App Store. Visit www.brimfieldapp.com for more about the app and www.brimfield.com for general show information.

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

Brimfield Grub: 2016 Edition

Our family spends a lot of time in Brimfield during show weeks. I always start out with the best of intentions to make food ahead of time and bring it with us each day. That usually doesn’t last very long and we inevitably end up eating food we can buy at the show.

Of course we have our favorites. It’s no secret that we love BT’s Smokehouse. We were pretty sad when we found out Brian Treitman had decided this would be his last year in Brimfield. Over the last few years, Brian has gone from just that guy who makes amazing food to our friend who makes amazing food. We will miss having him around at the shows, but we are locals so we can eat his food all year long (and we will!).

For those of you that are only in town during the May, July and September shows, just keep in mind that it won’t be there forever. If there’s a line, it’s worth the wait. And if you don’t end up getting some at the show, you can always stop at the restaurant in Sturbridge when you are done shopping. It’s BYOB so don’t forget to make a quick stop at Rapscallion Brewery for some beers to go!

Another staple for us is Hearty Eats. They have a brick and mortar location in Shelburne Falls, MA but their truck has been in Brimfield for several years now. The freshness of their food is remarkable and they use local organic ingredients. You don’t even feel like you are eating healthy because it’s so amazingly good. I can’t decide if the falafel or the thai noodle salad is my favorite but no matter what you get, you will not be disappointed.

A photo posted by Janell Mullen (@janellmmullen) on

We also would not survive our weeks in Brimfield without Vinnie’s Pizza. My girls live on it (I promise I feed them a more balanced diet the other 48 weeks of the year!) and the owners could not be nicer. We lived in NYC for 8 years so we know a good slice of pizza when we have one and this pizza is good! And don't miss their amazing breakfast pizza in the morning. What more could you ask for?

A photo posted by @vinniesfinefoods on

Then there is the classic Brimfield Pilgrim Sandwich. There’s not much to be said besides it's awesome and it's totally worth the wait. A little salty and a little sweet with the perfect amount of mayo. The guy who makes them is also so nice and personable. Earlier today he told me how hard doing Brimfield is at first. He said he has no idea why he came back after his first show because it was so bad, but he did and now his sandwiches are iconic. If you have never had one you really should. If you have had one, you probably want another one!

A photo posted by @mavenandgrace on

Food is definitely a a big part of the Brimfield experience and those are just a few of our tried and true places but there are new food options at almost every show. Here are some of the new (and new-ish) trucks at the May 2016 show:

Say Cheese showed up at Brimfield last year with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s operated by Teri and Remy, a mother/daughter team out of Worcester, MA. I know I keep saying everyone in Brimfield is nice, but these two seriously could not be any nicer. They always have a smile on their face, they are so friendly to their customers and they love what they do. Each sandwich is made to order and the flavor combinations are unique and delicious.

A photo posted by Brimfield Flea Finder (@brimfieldfleafinder) on

Happy Taco also made their Brimfield debut last year. They offer Baja Fish, Saigon Pork, Grilled Chicken, Carne Asada and Ground Beef tacos. It’s operated by a sweet couple from Gloucester, MA (which is where they get the fish for the fish tacos) and the food is really fresh and good. At first glance, it may seem like the food options in Brimfield are typical fair food. But The Happy Taco is one of many examples of great food made by people who really care about what they do.

A photo posted by Brimfield Flea Finder (@brimfieldfleafinder) on

In addition to lots of good meal choices, there are plenty of snack options. Kettle Corn happens to be one of my favorites. Chances are, if you have walked by the Goody’s Kettle Corn stand at the Sturtevant’s field, you met Goody. He likes to talk to people about his kettle corn and he swears it’s the best around. I have to agree with him. It’s lighter and less sweet than most kettle corn and he cares about the ingredients he uses. Want a sample? Just ask him! The May 2016 show is his first Brimfield and we really hope he sticks around!

We cover a lot of ground during the show. From one end of the show to the other. Earlier this week, we happened to be down by the Brimfield Barn and we spotted another new food truck.  Sun Kim Bop. The only right thing to do was to sample everything on the menu. You know, for informational purposes. We were really impressed. They offer a Bop Burger (seasoned rice buns sprinkled with dry seaweed and sesame seeds with sautéed homemade kimchi, pork, beef or chicken in the middle), Korean BBQ Wrap (Small size wrap with Korean beef and vegetables) and dumplings. It’s not centrally located in the food court area but it’s close to a Budweiser truck serving beer and depending on the time of day, it might be nice to avoid some of the longer lines at the more centrally located food places.

We found out a few weeks ago that there was going to be a poutine truck and my French Canadian husband was pretty excited. The Poutine Gourmet has lived up to his expectations. The fries and cheese curds are great and even though we were skeptical about the vegetarian gravy at first, it’s actually really good too.

Finally, Chompers is another new truck at the May 2016 show. They offer crunchy balls of goodness. Want to know more? Well, Beef Chompers are little fried balls of smoky bacon, ground beef and cheddar cheese served with a sweet 'n' tangy ketchup. Chicken Chompers are little fried balls of chicken parmesan with fresh basil and mozzarella cheese, topped with parmesan cheese and served with marinara. If they sound up your alley, you will love them!

So there you have it. This is not a full overview of all the food options at the show by any means. The food court at New England Motel has lobster rolls, sausages, burgers and much more and there are other food trucks and stands sprinkled throughout the show on most of the larger fields. We will try to cover some of the other food in later posts but if you are coming to the show this weekend, I hope it gets you excited about some of your options!

We would love to know what you are eating at the show, so use #brimfieldeats and tag us to let us know what you think!