BRIMFIELD, Mass. — Most of the time, Brimfield is a sleepy little town — too far from any city to be a suburb, but too close to be farm country. But all that will change when the Brimfield antiques shows open May 7-13 2012. That’s when Brimfield’s famous flea market comes to life as ‘ground zero,’ the best place to find antiques popular in America.
There are tinkers and peddlers, collectors and dealers — all there for that Great Find, the special something that probably has not seen the light of day for many years: things from attics and barns which were all but forgotten; the furniture from the aunt that the heirs could not use; the houseful of items that some lawyer had to convert to cash.
Brimfield happens three times each year — May, July and September — but the first gathering each year has a special air of excitement, as it’s the first one in nine months.
The time is right for dealers to sell for great value the inventories they have built up over the winter months to raise some cash. Buyers are there to stock up, looking for the pieces they can place in their living rooms or shop windows as specials.
It begins Monday, as dealers arrive at their favorite exhibition fields. While selling is not allowed on that day by the town’s zoning rules, there is still a great deal of discussion among friends about what they brought or may be looking to add to their collections.
During the night, the merchandise begins to come out of the cars, vans, trucks and trailers, with many people touring the fields with flashlights and cash or check books.
For those who just can’t wait to start buying, Monday features Linda Zukas’ Vintage Clothing and Textile Show, a one-day affair at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center. This exhibition and sale has become the premier event of its specialized market, selling early fashions, fabric and related items.
By early dawn on Tuesday, once-quiet Brimfield will be swarming with fast-walking, serious-faced shoppers wearing backpacks, pushing shopping carts or pulling wagons as they look at the dozen fields opening that morning. As early as 5:30 a.m., the coffee stands have lines, and parking lots are doing a lot of land office business.
Over the course of the week, there will be about 20 different fields, lots or selling venues. Some are small, with 50 to 100 exhibitors, while others are very big — such as Mays, with more than 600, and J&J, with more than 700.
On Tuesday, at least a dozen venues open free of charge to visitors. They are all on Route 20, beginning immediately west of the village with Mahogany Ridge and continuing about a mile to Green Acres. Most of these fields allow wandering throughout the night. At 11 a.m., Dealers Choice, on the south side of Route 20 at the western end of the activities, opens with an admission charge. Brimfield Acres North, just across the street from Dealers Choice, opens (also with an admission charge) at 1 p.m.
On Wednesday, there are three fields that have timed openings. The first is New England Motel at 6 a.m. About 300 dealers will be exhibiting there in three covered sheds. At 9 a.m., Heart-O-The-Mart opens its gates, and the 400 exhibitors there begin selling. Both of these fields charge admission.
Hertan’s Antiques Shows has its own unique opening. Dealers are let onto the field in the early morning hours, but they may not show their selling inventory. Customers are not charged to enter the field, so they begin milling about in the late morning. At exactly noon, David Lamberto rings the bell, and the action commences.
Thursday is May’s. The second-largest of all fields, May’s is the short-term home of about 600 dealers, which all starts with move-in at dawn. By 8:30 a.m., dealers may put up tents and props, such as tables and stands, but still no merchandise. At exactly 9 a.m., May’s lets in the admission-paying audience to commence buying, and the dealers rapidly set up their merchandise.
Friday’s opening is the original field of the whole marketplace, J&J’s. Owned and operated by sisters Jill Lukash and Judy Mathieu (the daughters of the founder of these markets, Gordon Reed), J&J’s draws as many as 700 dealers, most of whom begin setting up on Thursday evening. At 8 a.m. Friday, customers are let in to J&J’s to do what is expected of them — buying!
Many fields at Brimfield have hours that stretch into Saturday afternoon, or in some cases, even Sunday.
If you can’t visit Brimfield this spring, never fear because future Brimfield dates are July 9-14, 2012 and Sept. 3-8, 2012.
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