May 16, 2010

Buying Old Things.

So three times a year something happens about 45 minutes away from my house in a little town called Brimfield. The first time I went to Brimfield I really had no idea what to expect. I did not even realize until the third time I went how significant the Brimfield Antique Show really is. It started in 1959 and it is now the worlds largest outdoor antique show. There are over 6,000 vendors who come to Brimfield to make their fortune. People from all over the world mark the one week in May, July and September that Brimfield happens on their calendars. You know the kind of people, people who collect things..... people like Martha Stewart.....just to name drop...I read that she attends :) Brimfield would not be on my radar screen if I did not live in Massachusetts such a short drive from it. If you are not into buying old stuff and if you do not collect metal lunch boxes then it takes awhile to understand Brimfield. The first time I went I was overwhelmed and not overly impressed. Booth after booth of antiques... books and guns found in someones attic; pictures, dishes, furniture and linens from estate sales; molding, lights and fixtures from old factories, the list could go on and on. After I experienced Brimfield the first time I realized that there are a few things you need to know before you show up at Brimfield.

You need to know if you collect anything.

You need to know that a doorknob is not really a doorknob but rather a curtain holder. You really can not want things for their intended purpose you have to be able to get past their appearance and see what their potential is.

You need to know what is a good price to pay for old stuff.

You really need to know yourself.

About an hour into my first trip to Brimfield I realized that I had to break this whole experience down so that I could focus, so I tried to notice what I was drawn to. You probably would not be surprised to know that it happened to be things that had a clear purpose, things like boxes and containers. Things like old fruit crates, old wooden boxes that used to hold cream cheese, wooden feed boxes., plant stands, and cigar boxes. I started noticing prices and of course asking questions. So when I came home from Brimfield that year I had in my posession an old wooden pear box that the grower would pack his pears in before sending them to the grocery store. Stamped on the box are the instructions to the wholesaler and the retailer on how to condition the pears to sell them. I use the box to hold my magazines. I spent $10.00 on the box....which I constantly tell myself was a good deal. I also purchased a green wooden box that was originally from a feed company. I am not really sure what it was originally used for. But I love it. It sits on my front porch with a plant in it. I think I spent $15.00 on it. I looked for another one this year but there were not as many available and they were closer to $40.00.

There is this one booth at Brimfield that I love because it has old fishing stuff from Cape Cod and Maine. There are wooden lobster buoys, piles of them, all different colors. Everytime I go to Brimfield I carefully choose one set and carry it around but always end up putting it back. The small ones are $5.00 the big ones are $8.00. LL Bean sells replicas of the buoys in their home catalog for $19.50 apiece so I am not sure what my problem is about purchasing them. when they are such a good deal. I also have been known to stare longingly at the huge glass fishing floats. that are also at this booth, they are enormous green glass balls. When I was a kid there was this time that my family was on the beach in California and we found a small green glass fishing float. I loved seeing that fishing float sitting on the mantle or a bookshelf in our house growing up and I always wanted it. There is something about buying one that is not as fabulous as finding one on the beach. But I think my chances of finding a float on the beach are very small so I should just give in and buy one at an antique show in Western Massachusetts.
This last week I attended Brimfield and it is getting better and better, each time I go. This time I spent $27.00 including my $4.00 lunch. I bought the black metal plant stand you see in the picture. I should have bought all 4 of them that the lady had but spending a lot of money in one spot is not easy for me. The lady I bought it from found all of them at an estate sale in New Hampshire. I bought mine from her for $15.00. I was very pleased with this purchase because I had been looking at plant stands for quite awhile. I knew how much they were new, I knew how expensive they could be. And I knew I needed it.
My next purchase was....plants. I can not resist plants even at an antiques collectible show where they clearly have no place. But these two herbs I bought totally knew my name and were just so beautiful I could not resist. ... definitely needed them !! My last purchase was two peach baskets that were a dollar apiece and will be very handy for putting my veggies in this summer. Usually I end up out in my garden with nothing to hold all my vegetables I just picked.
It is so amazing how much stuff is at Brimfield and how many people there are to buy it. Brimfield's population is usually only 3,500 but three times a year it jumps to over 130,000 due to the antique show.
I really think you should come and visit me in September and I will take you to Brimfield. maybe you are just the person to convince me to buy those lobster buoys I want. It is so fun to wander and see all the unusual stuff. And you would be surprised to find out just like my friend Jenn pointed out, "how often someone elses trash turns out to be your treasure."

1 comment:

Kate said...

Jennifer ... I'm drooling. Seriously. What fun, and what amazing finds. That green feed company box - superb!