We have traveled many roads here at Life’s Patina, searching for just the right pieces to haul home and set up for you to peruse during one of our seasonal Barn Sales. For years, I have been doing this solo, before Life’s Patina began and then as I delved into this energetic business plan. As time has worn on, and my collections and hauls have grown larger, I have added on road trip helpers to my searches. The Brimfield Antique Show and Flea Market in Brimfield, Massachusetts is one of those trips that requires some helpers. It is the largest outdoor antique show in the country with well over 250,000 visitors per show that are spread out over a series of fields over a half mile long along RT. 20 in the small town of Brimfield, Massachusetts.
The choices are endless and the options are limitless. To head up to this antique show and buy for the barn had been on my radar screen for some time but it wasn’t until four years ago that I actually gathered my wits about me and decided to go…with a helper…Chris. We called around and found out where we could rent a U-Haul up there so we would only have to tow one way, booked a hotel room and headed out on the road. We were overwhelmed by our option of choices, the haggling required to get a good deal, the crowds, the heat (for the only time we can fit it in, is the Summer show) and the logistics of it all. See all of those tents? How is one to pick up the large hutch they bought ten or so tents deep or out in the May’s Field when it is not feasibly possible to carry it? Like this little number we found that we could carry at least to the end of the aisle where we would later pick it up with our truck.
Well, after this most recent trip, I finally feel as if we have learned the ropes and from our mistakes and misjudgments and our always present calamities of Murphy’s law…we have arrived. Arrived in Brimfield, knowing how to handle it all, to buy in the three days time that we allot ourselves and figure out how to get it all home. Taking three dear friends who I have been through thick and thin with over the course of 18 years certainly helps to ease the pain of these calamities. We “get it all done” without any offense as I whizz through some fields and dally in others, saying yay or nay, let’s price this piece, no that is not what I am looking for and then stopping abruptly as just the right piece comes into my line of vision.
We dig through smalls…
through piles of silver (no not every piece is a good one),
selecting just the right colors to add pop into a vignette.
We inspect the pieces, determine the quality,
make decisions on which items to lump together to make an offer on (would someone like this one? or this one? or this one?)
There is a lot of deliberation for one really cannot buy it all…
nor would we want to!
There are many decisions to make, “can we fit this?”
“Can we make this?”
“How many do we buy?”
“What word should we spell for we cannot buy all of the letters?”, and by the end of each day, how do you spell?
Sometimes we feel as if we have lost our marbles…but by the next morning we always find them!
…Except for the morning when we went to pick up the U Haul. We had shopped the first day without the trailer in tow and had filled up the Suburban. In typical U Haul fashion, they called me that first morning to tell me that the place where we had reserved our U Haul pick up and confirmed it, ten minutes away, had none left for us. The closest place that did have a trailer was 3o miles away. Kink in plans…readjust schedule…and off we went the next morning to pick up the only available trailer in the area.
We pulled into the parking lot and I quickly snapped a photo of ALL the available trailers in Springfield Mass. Why you ask? Well we always seem to have a U Haul snafu of some nature and for some reason, I was getting some U Haul bad vibes upon pulling in the parking lot. You see, the redirected pick up spot that we had now pulled into, was where we had to drive when our U Haul broke an axle two years back.
Click below to read about those past Brimfield trip calamities and if you want a little comedic relief:
Putting bad vibes aside, we walked into the office, backed up in front of one of the available trailers, hooked up and plugged in to test the lights… we had blinkers and brakes, but no running lights. Okay, no worries, there were several trailers here. The guys maneuver the other trailers around, we back up again, hitch up and still…no running lights. Third time is a charm…or in our case, it is not a charm but a realization that it wasn’t the trailers that were the issue, it was the electronics in the electrical adaptor in our Suburban. ” Must be a loose wire somewhere so I cannot rent you a trailer,” states the man who had been assisting us. “What?” I think I uttered, as a flashback appeared of all the stuff that we had bought yesterday that would not fit into the Suburban and we were to pick up today after getting the trailer. Dire thoughts of this being the only time this year that I could purchase and haul back a load of goodies from Brimfield, spun around in my head…all of the planning and logistics that had gone into the trip…down the drain and I had no way to get them home. The number one thought though was, OF COURSE there is a short in the wires somewhere. YOU took the Suburban in to get it serviced before you left, for it had been making a funny noise in the rear. God forbid, you ignore that funny noise and break down with the U Haul. YOU had okayed the costly repair to fix something in the rear shocks that was making that funny sound. For when I asked that mechanic if it could become a problem if I were to tow a heavy trailer and he said yes, instant flashbacks of our previous breakdown, caused me to sign on the dotted line. How was I to know that there were tiny wires in the rear of the car that would cause a U Haul’s running lights to not work…and who the heck needs running lights when the brakes and the blinkers worked??? Aren’t they the important ones. Obviously my ignorance was not appreciated when the U Haul guy said again, “Ma’m, (that is a fighting word) I cannot rent you a trailer without those lights working and I cannot fix them, you will have to go to a Chevy dealer to get the repair done and then come back to us.” As my cohorts in crime looked on at me in disbelief I think, or rather with the thought of, “why the heck did we go along on this trip with you for stuff like this always happens when you are with a Veno who was a Murphy?” I asked if we had any other options. I think this must have been a different U Haul guy from the one who walked away from us two years prior saying, “Sorry Ma’m,” for the tenth time. He suggested that we cancel that U Haul reservation and rent the one truck they had left. We almost all visibly jumped for joy on that suggestion for we realized we had enough drivers to drive two vehicles home.
Crisis averted even though time was lost. No matter, we were on the road again back to Brimfield and were about to hit the fields hard to make up for that lost time. We found more goodies and appreciated the insane air conditioning in the new U Haul truck which was welcome relief in the intense heat wave that had hit while we were up there.
We partook in our annual lobster roll lunch…
finagled our last deals…
and loaded up all of our found treasures.
As always, we had one more minor snafu to surmount before we could head home. On the third and last day, after filling up the majority of the trailer the day before, we came across two vendors who had too much good stuff to pass up… so we didn’t. I am a visual and have packed enough trailers by now to know that by looking at the U Haul and what we had left that we could get all of it in… except for the large pieces, nine of them to be exact.
The one thing that I have not addressed, that keeps us coming back to Brimfield, is the people. The vendors we have now bought from each time we come up here, are like our extended Brimfield family. There is Paul (also known as Mark amongst my team) and Terry of Vintage Cod (Salted Cod…you had to be there) he a teacher the majority of the year and a picker of great stuff the remaining time who are now looking into buying their dream B and B. There is Ryan and his dad. Sadly Ryan was flying solo this year for his dad has been battling cancer. There is the Brimfield Barn and Eric. There is our old spool lady, and the stalls where they have great china, and our glass bottle man and the list goes on and on. We now have new family members who ended up residing very close to us in PA who so graciously offered us their trailer that was going back home empty. If we could load it, they would haul it!
Load it we did and it’s a wrap!!
We had to take a celebratory selfie to mark the occasion at 8 pm on the last day. Stinky as we were, a little sunburned and in dire need of refreshment, we celebrated in the closed up fields, not only of our coup of some great stuff but in our problem solving abilities, our “stick to it-ness” and most of all…our friendship. Our rag tag band all take on various roles; resident comedian, accountant/record keeper, photographer, visual and decision maker, blending together to make one serious band of women!
We do not want to disclose too much about the treasures we found but I will be posting our finds periodically as we give them a little TLC and set them up in “rooms” in the barn in anticipation of our Fall Barn Sale. I have one more hunting and gathering trip in Virginia on the way home from our family vacation in North Carolina. Stay tuned to find out who I bribe from my family into making that detour with me!
Until we meet again