It isn’t a Fashion Show
I can’t emphasize this enough. Your heels can stay home. It is best to trade in your stilettos for comfy sneakers or flip flops. Dress in layers. Some of these shows can start early. I got to Brimfield one year at 6:30 am and the Ralph Lauren crew had already loaded their truck with great finds. So, have your sweatshirts and jackets, wear them layered over a long sleeve top and tank. It can get hot on open fields in the sun. Last time we went to Brimfield it was 96 degrees in September (quite warm for Massachusetts).
Many people take cards now, but if you want to get a deal, or plan on negotiating, then you need to have cash in your wallet. You can often get a better price with cash.
Let’s Make a Deal
If I think a price is already fair then I don’t try to negotiate down. I know people do but if I already feel like I’m getting a great deal then I don’t nickle and dime. However, if I’m buying many items from one booth I might say, “If I get this, this and this could you do me a better deal?” Other ways of phrasing a negotiation which aren’t offensive to the dealer or you are:
“What’s the best you could do?”
“Is this price firm?”
“Could you take $10 off?” (provided the item isn’t only $10)
“I'm interested in this piece, but the price is a little higher than I wanted to spend. Is there any wiggle room?”
“Wow! Your booth is so expensive.”
“Why, would I pay $200 for THAT.”
Don’t gush over something that you’re trying to get a deal on.
Most dealers want to sell their wares and will make a deal with you, they usually will give 10 percent off but might give you more off if they don’t want to bring their items back home with them. Also, don't give away the fact that you love everything, and that the prices seem fair, there is almost always some wiggle room. Great deals can happen at the end of the day or end of shows for that reason.
A Friend with a Truck
If you think you might find a piece of furniture, or even if you’re not looking for one you might find one. That is what happens to me. My first Brimfield, I had our small SUV and found an awesome cupboard but it wouldn’t fit in the car. Now, I always bring the truck! Just in case.
If you’re looking for specific pieces of furniture or artwork, bring a list of measurements so you’ll know if you find something that will fit your space. Also, bring a pocket tape measure so you can double check finds in the booth before you buy them.
I love how homes look styled with collections. I collect - old books (but just for looks, not antique value), blue and white china / pottery, ball jars, old bottles and shells. My husband will also tell you I collect furniture as I love to paint it. What do you collect? Antique Shows and yard sales are the perfect places to find these items for your collections. If you don’t already collect, these are great places to find things to start.
It is a good idea to bring a small cart or large reusable bags if you find any great treasures. It can be a long day if you’re trying to juggle everything. Ikea makes a great little cart and the Ikea shopping bag is a great large bag to bring to fit all your items. Make sure dealers wrap your breakables if possible. For larger items they sometimes let you pull your truck up to load. It is good idea to have blankets in your car to wrap furniture.
Bring a Friend
It is always more fun to go on the hunt with a friend. I usually bring my husband, kids or my mom. Sometimes it can be hard with the kids, for a day long show like Brimfield, because they are done looking before I even get started, but I love looking with my mom and husband. It is nice to have second pair of eyes and also a second opinion. For example, that soda sign might look amazing on the field but it is way too big for your living room wall.
I’m constantly making over furniture with furniture stains and paint. I often look past the current finish on furniture, but focus on if it is well made and has good bones. I try to envision how it will look AFTER. Keep an open mind when you’re looking, items can get upcycled - crates can become side tables, doors can become tabletops or headboards, jugs or clam baskets turned into industrial looking lights, old work trolleys into tables…. Well, you get the idea! You can see I used a barn door as a headboard in the bedroom I created with Habitat for Humanity.