Thoughts on Brimfield

Oh Brimfield…once a year we meet, and you always kick my butt.  You really do… I find you exhausting, exhilarating, overwhelming and for the first time ever, a bit sad.  Let me explain.  I always block off one day in May to attend the enormous antique show known as Brimfield.  It is located in Brimfield, MA about an hour and a half from Providence.  I took Vijay when he was a baby, I went alone last year, very pregnant, and this year, I had Vik along for the ride while Vijay stayed home with a sitter (busy toddler + Brimfield does not equal fun).

It started out as a beautiful morning, sunny with a slight chill in the air.  Vik slept for the entire car ride, while I drank coffee and listened to NPR (did you know there is a whole wide world out there beyond babyland?!), and we both arrived feeling refreshed.  I loaded Vik in the stroller, and packed it to the brim with food, blankets, diapers, wipes, change of clothes, toys, camera, cloth bags, and my baby carrier.  We had a great time browsing for the first hour or two, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get into the thrifting spirit (warning, if you want a happy Brimfield post, quit reading and visit last years post!).

And then it hit me- my feelings stemmed from the fact that so many of the vendors seem like they don’t want to sell anything- no bargaining, and shocking sticker prices.  What kinda kills me is they have piles of STUFF that they cart around from show to show, and when you offer them $10 under their crazy high price, they huff and puff and tell you how valuable it is.  And all I can think is- I’m pretty sure you would rather hoard this stuff than sell it.  Like the pretty turquoise Ball jars above- the vendor had hundreds of them, and wouldn’t budge off his $15 sticker price.  Can you imagine wanting to wrap all of those up and cart them to the next show, just to have them not sell again due to their high price?  I’m afraid I can’t quite understand that mentality.

I don’t want to be a downer, but I also felt overwhelmed by all of the STUFF.  I often have the same feeling when I walk into a Target, or other one-stop-shop.  In fact I rarely go to those places- I think my last trip was six months ago, and I broke out in hives on my chest.  No joke.  The environmental science nerd in me flares up, and I start thinking about all of the resources used to make all of the STUFF, multiplied by every big store across our country, and then across our world, and just thinking about all of that stuff, most of it plastic, and most of it cheaply made, and most of it destined for a landfill within a year of being purchased, causes me to flip out.  While I didn’t quite have that experience at Brimfield, I did feel almost saddened by all of the stuff- piles and piles of it.  Granted, buying secondhand is SO MUCH better than buying new.  But my goodness, with so much old stuff laying around, I can’t imagine why we need to make anything new (especially plastic stuff- there is almost nothing plastic to be found at Brimfield, all wood, glass, metal and tin…interesting).

Anyway…before I completely depress you, I will share pictures of a few of the things that caught my eye, as well as snapshots from a few of my favorite vendors.  They are friendly, their booths are artfully arranged and I always find a few beautiful little trinkets to take home (which I’ll show you soon!).

I loved that vase…and looking at it again, I am kinda kicking myself for not just taking the plunge.  Can you imagine it chock full of flowers?  Oh shucks, maybe I’ll have to go back tomorrow 🙂  I also thought the little metal basket for carrying mason jars would be charming to bring on a picnic (charming, but impractical with my boys!).

If I had the right knitting project, I would have bought a handful of those mother-of-pearl buttons.  They were gorgeous, as was that etched silver pitcher.  Sigh…loved it.  I also enjoyed browsing the small black and white portraits- wouldn’t you love to know a bit about each person?  What’s their story, who were they, and how did their picture end up at Brimfield?  I bought a few of the lavender sachets for $5 (not antique, but printed with antique images).  Perfect for little hostess gifts.

I really wanted a dress form for my studio, but I was a bit overwhelmed thinking about getting it into the car and home.  Same goes for the amazing dresser- I was this close to buying it, but I chickened out at the thought of transporting it with baby in tow.  Wouldn’t it be amazing for a kids room?  Too, too cute.  Anyone going to Brimfield tomorrow that wants to lug it home for me 🙂

I love the pressed tin framed mirrors- one day, when I have the right space, one of these beauties is coming home with me.  Mark my words.

Finally, I’m always so tempted by the children’s offerings.  That firetruck would have been a big hit at our house (but for $200 I couldn’t do it), as would the adorable buckets (again, too pricey).   But I do love browsing the kids stuff, and imagining how loved it once was.

I would like to share the names of my favorite vendors- many of them have stores, and websites, so be sure to check them out (and if they don’t have a website, search them out on the map if you visit Brimfield!).  They were so sweet, and totally cool with me taking pictures, and their kindness was much appreciated- Nesting on Main, Beth Hylan Designs, Cary Goodrich at Thoreauly Antiques, Eye Openers, Antique Therapy, Sage Farm Antiques.  Finally, if you’d like a peek at what Brimfield with a baby looks like, here you go….  and now you see why I couldn’t fathom buying anything bigger than a thimble!

Your thoughts on “Thoughts on Brimfield

  1. Brimfield is definitely one of those environments that quickly can send someone into sensory overload. Heaven forbid I don't have a list with me…I quickly lose my ability to remember what little treasure I was hoping to find. My thoughts get lost in all that stuff! There are times my husband needs to nudge me saying, 'that would be a nice picture. Why don't you take one?!' I'm headed there tomorrow and I'm bracing myself 😉

  2. I sympathize with your consumerism reaction – I gave away three big bags of clothes, belts, etc. a few weeks ago and I still feel like I'm drowning in STUFF. It's awful. The sheer amount of things that we think we need – ugh.

  3. You and I would have got into a fist fight over that vase if I'd been with you! But you can make a dresser like that blue one. I'm sure.


  4. What a fabulous market to visit – sometimes just people watching and browsing is just as good as buying. Thank you for the fabulous photos again.

  5. I'm sure you know that Ball has put out an anniversary edition of their blue glass jars – pint sized regular mouth… I bought a set of 6 on amazon for about $14 with free shipping, but then saw them locally at a hardware store for only $10 – and that is for 6 of them! Sure, they're not “original”, but they're still that beautiful blue color!

  6. I love this post, and love that you were brave and patient enough to take Vik along. I know just what you mean about stuff–it takes our focus off of one another, drains resources….yet it can be so fascinating. I've never been to Brimfield, when treasure-hunting becomes competitive it loses a lot of magic and serendipity for me. (Gail, but I chose anonymous because none of the other commenting options worked for me).

  7. I thought it was only here in Switzerland that vendors behaved like that – and it has made me more or less stop going to antique markets. Plus, I really don't need more stuff 🙂 – similarly, I often wonder/despair of all the stuff being produced and thrown away, but reality is, many many people want new things not old used, in my eyes charming things, to them cheap and tacky.

  8. I totally agree with you, the amount of stuff in our world is quite depressing and astonishing. We live in such a stuff-centric nation. Your shots of Brimfield are stunning. Funny, there has been a flurry of blog posts and Facebook posts this week from Brimfield. Yours are the most beautiful by far.

  9. Glad to know someone else tries to reverse baby brain with NPR! I've noticed as more people are getting into the idea of buying used stuff thrift prices are going up.

  10. I can imagine how busy of a day that would have been, with child in tow.
    I agree that there is toooo much stuff, too much plastic. I wonder if in 100 years there will be much left from our generation to stock an antique show? So much of what we have is sooo flimsy. Stuff just isn't made to last.

  11. Thank you for this gorgeous post – your photos are amazing. I especially love the last one. I'm in that zone now myself. 🙂

    I think you showed admirable restraint in not buying pretty things just because… but considering if they have the right spot in your life/home right now.

  12. I can understand the feeling of being overwhelmed. I live near Round Top and experience that emotion quite frequently when I see all the wonderful things nicely displayed to buy, but having only a certain amount of money to spend. I’ve always wanted to go to Brimfield, but I live so far away that I don’t know if I ever will. Maybe one day.

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