I had to laugh. I wrote a blog post yesterday during lunch at my day job. I logged on tonight to type it in. I happened to look at the ‘most recent’ post. It too was from this same time period – last year! And to top it off, half of what I wrote yesterday repeats what I wrote a year ago. LOL So instead I will just say that we were happy to see everyone we did in Spirit Lake and look forward to seeing everyone who will come to visit us in Walnut! And be safe driving to see us.
Michael, Tammy, Lois & Walt
We just wanted to say Thank You to everyone that stopped by our booth in Spirit Lake, IA over the Memorial Day weekend! We enjoyed visiting with you and catching up. We also look forward to visiting with everyone that will have a chance to stop by this coming weekend – Father’s Day weekend – in Walnut, IA. We still have lots of new stuff we found over the winter for y’all to ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’ over! And the weather looks to be nice (so far) for most of the weekend. So put on your walking shoes and c’mon out!
Michael, Tammy, Lois and Walt
Imagine for just a minute…
- 6 days
- In Massachusetts
- Town’s population: 3,339
- Antique Vendors: 4,800
Doesn’t that sound like heaven?
I’m talking about Brimfield — the largest outdoor antique show in the US!
And after years of talking with vendors about the show and reading about it we finally took the plunge and decided to shop the July 2013 show.
Now if you know anything about me — I like to be prepared. So:
- Do we know how to get there? Check.
- Do we have a place to stay? Check.
- Do we have a list of items we need to purchase? Check.
- Do we have a magnifying glass, a tape measure and a black light? Check.
- Do we have tubs and wrap? Check.
- Do we have cash, checks and our tax ID number? Check.
- Do we have good walking shoes and sun screen? Check.
- Do we have a plan on how to walk and shop a 4,800 vendor show? Not a clue!
Think about it. 4,800 vendors. How do you shop a show with that many vendors? Where do you start? And how do you make decisions when just down the road there may be a better deal or a fantastic piece?
We spent a lot of time on the Internet trying to understand how the show works and trying to identify vendors that carry our specialties. Got to tell you — don’t bother. The Internet was NOT helpful. So what do you need to know before you take off for Brimfield?
SIX THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BRAVE BRIMFIELD
ONE: VENDORS COME AND GO
Prior to Brimfield all of the shows that I have attended work the same way. The vendors are expected to be open for the entire show. So you would assume that since Brimfield is a six day show that the vendors would be set up for all six days. That is NOT how it works. In reality Brimfield consists of 21 individual shows that all happen to be in the same small town during the “same” time period. Each of the 21 shows are set up in a “field”. The field owner sets the schedule for their show. Some shows last six days. Some shows last just a matter of hours. So the first thing you need to know is what are the days and hours for each field.
Fields that are six day shows will be open all of the time. So you can visit them at your leisure. The one-day shows are another story. If you want to shop these shows don’t dawdle. We found that many vendors closed up shop within 3 hours of opening!
TWO: IT’S A SHOPPING FRENZY
Are you a fan of Black Friday shopping? If so you are going to LOVE the one-day fields at Brimfield. This is how it works.
- The one-day fields are fenced.
- It costs $5 per person to get into these fields.
- You’ll need to get to the field about 20 minutes prior to the opening.
- Have exact change ready and in hand.
- If you’ve never been there before you won’t know where your kind of vendors are. You’ll have less competition if you head to the back of the field and work it from back-to-front.
- Be prepared to fight for a spot in front of a table to look at what a vendor has to offer. Other shoppers will not make space for you.
- If you are interested in something keep it in hand. If it is on a table it is fair game.
Even if you don’t enjoy the rush and craziness of Black Friday the one day shows are worth it. We found our best pieces and prices at these shows.
THREE: DON’T EXPECT WARM AND FUZZY
Transactions at Brimfield are not relationship based. The vendors that we met didn’t want to talk about the history of the piece or who made it. They prefer to deal with re-sellers versus collectors. And for them it’s a commodities exchange. So don’t expect a lot of conversation beyond best price. And remember this is the east coast. You shouldn’t expect a “Midwest Nice” experience. The vendors don’t intend to be rude — it’s simply a time issue. They want to sell as much as possible in as little time as possible.
FOUR: CASH — DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT
Most vendors will take a check if you have a re-sale number. If you don’t have a tax number bring cash. To be honest we thought that was strange until we learned that the vendors did not want to file sales tax for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Hmmm. Unlike Iowa and Minnesota I guess they don’t pay sales tax on any of their transactions.
FIVE: TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE
Don’t take the main road off the highway into Brimfield. You’ll triple your commute time. There are back roads that will take you directly into the center of Brimfield. Take the back roads and park in the center of town. You’ll save a few bucks by parking at either end of town — but trust me the $2.00 difference is not worth it at the end of a long antiquing day!
SIX: DON’T KILL YOURSELF
You don’t need to be there from sun up to sun down. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we shopped from 8am to 2pm. If we go again we’ll probably skip the weekend.
If we were to drive directly to Brimfield from Iowa it would take more than 21 hours to get there. So was it worth it?
Well I will admit that Michael and I had a gas. We antiqued all the way out there and back. We took the time to visit family. We shopped till we dropped. And we found some beautiful pieces — not only in Brimfield but in Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana as well. Will we go again? We certainly hope so. And if you have the chance to go — send us an email. We’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have. Brimfield can be daunting — but the experience is definitely worth it!
Hello Friends, Family and Customers! You do know that Customers are just Friends we haven’t had the opportunity to talk to enough yet right? 🙂 I was meandering about the Internet recently looking for more information about Moriage – you know, the really cool porcelain made by Geishas in Japan with hand tinted, hand rolled and hand applied beautiful designs? Well, I ran across a really cool site!
You know how many of the dragonware (a subset of moriage) cups have images impressed in the bottom of them that you can see if you hold them up to the light? Well, this lady named Helen in the UK has been nice enough to put together a site with all the lithopanes she’s been able to find and has them named as well. The site is http://www.lithophane.org.uk/japanese/japanese.html .
So now all of you out there that have cups with lithopanes need to go to this site and identify what you have – then come tell us! Yes, this includes you guys with the nudes too. Fess up! lol Up until now we’ve just been classifying them as geishas and nudes. Now we can all specifically identify them! And if by chance you have one that she doesn’t have, by all means, please take a picture of it and email it to her. And you know what else? She has pictures of lithopanes from other countries as well. I have to admit, I had no idea that other countries did lithopanes too. See, we all keep learning as we go! Now to go figure out what we have….
I turned 50 this year. Yep – half a century old. And instead of worrying about “getting old” I decided to celebrate with a “Life is Short, Eat Dessert First” party!
We hired a bartender to make ice cream drinks. We had 3 chocolate fountains with a gazillion items to dip including strawberries, marshmallows and homemade potato chips. And we topped it all off with a ton of finger desserts including cake balls, mini cheesecakes, brownies, dessert bars and cookies. Of course, I didn’t even think about setting the food out until it arrived…
Ah – Salvers to the rescue!
So what’s a salver? Salver came from the Latin word salvare’ which means “to save.” And in Europe during the 17th century a salva tray – filled with samples of the food that was going to be served – was given to the “taster” before the King took his first bite.
The popular name for a salver is cake stand. And although cake stands were first mentioned in 1620 – in the United States they were manufactured around 1770 when prosperous families began serving extravagant dessert courses that often included a pyramid of footed cake stands filled with candied fruits, nuts, puddings, cakes and tarts.
English author Hannah Glasse describes an example in her 1760s recipe book, The Compleat Confectioner:
“In the middle a high pyramid of one salver above another, the bottom one large, the next smaller, the top one less; these salvers are to be fill’d with all kinds of wet and dry sweet-meats in glass, baskets or little plates, colour’d jellies, creams, & biscuits, crisp’d almonds and little knickknacks, and bottles of flowers prettily intermix’d, the little top salver must have large preserv’d fruit in it.”
Now – I admit I had not read Hannah’s book before my party. Nor was I trying to re-create a 1770 dinner party (I’m not THAT old!). I just wanted to find a way to put out all of my desserts AND make the table look nice. And since I had recently purchased a collection of cake plates – thank heavens – all I had to do was unwrap them, wash them and set the table.
Now I’m hooked. I LOVE cake stands! And I’m searching for them on all of my antiquing trips. So far most of the cake stands I’ve been able to find are round – but I’ve found a few that are square, hexagonal and even octagonal. And I’ve even snagged a purple slag cake stand and two Vaseline salvers.
But don’t think for a moment that cake stands are only for cake – just ask Martha Stewart. She suggests that you can use them as
centerpieces, candelabras or even flower stands.
Hmmm. A functional — usable antique. Imagine that!
I haven’t been in an accident since I was a teenager… So getting hit was quite a shock. But I think it was worse for the young woman who hit us.
But here’s the good news:
- No one got hurt.
- The other driver took full responsibility.
- The Traverse was still drivable.
So all we had to do was wait (45 minutes) for the police to show up to write a report. And file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. While we waited we got to know the young woman who was driving the other car. She’s 17, just learning to drive and made a rookie mistake. I think that’s happened to all of us. And before we finished up with the business side of the accident we met her sister, her mother and her boyfriend — all who came to support her! Pretty nice, huh?!
By 8PM Friday night we were finally back on the road and headed to Oklahoma City. We had another little adventure that night at the hotel involving a different young lady — dressed in a very tight, very small black dress coming out of a hotel room. But I’ll leave the details of that story out of our G-rated blog!
The next day was Saturday — and I have to admit that it was not our best day. There wasn’t a problem with the people we met that day or the places we visited. I just think we were still a little shook up from the day before and some of the fun had worn off. So after one stop at 23rd Street Antiques where we purchased a lovely flow blue pitcher and a Blue Aurene Steuben vase we headed back north.
Sunday we stopped by the Overland Park Antique Show. Wow. Okay let me say that again. WOW!
- Okay, it cost me $6 bucks a person to get in.
- And Yes, there were only about 50 vendors.
- BUT Talk about high end. I’ve always said WE carried high end, but these vendors REALLY had HIGH END
- AND the vendors were willing to deal!
We saw more Tiffany, Steuben, Loetz, Pairpoint, Flow Blue and Brilliant Cut Glass at this show then we’ve seen in ALL OF OUR BUYING TRIPS PUT TOGETHER. It was magnificent! And as I walked the aisles I kept finding things that took my breath away. Honestly — this show is worth the drive — even if all you are going to do is ooh and aah. The vendors were VERY knowledgeable and the education itself was more than worth the door fee!
I have to admit at first glance we assumed everything was going to be out of our price range. WE WERE WRONG. Yes, there was a lot of high end art glass. And high-end art glass is not cheap. But we found that the majority of the vendors were very reasonably priced.
We also assumed that prices would be “firm” in this kind of venue. Once again, WE WERE WRONG. We found that with very little haggling we were able to negotiate a discounted price.
This show was GREAT. And no doubt about it…we WILL BE BACK in 2011!
So that’s the story of our 2010 Fall Buying Trip.
- We spent 5 days on the road together.
- We opened the door to build relationships with 4 more dealers.
- We learned a ton.
- And we purchased 97 new items.
All-in-all, even with the Wham Bam I think it was a valuable way to spend our time and money!