Originally published in 2016. Updated in April 2019.
Shopping in Brimfield has always been one of my favorite things to do. I have purchased jewelry, art, furniture and all sorts of random treasure at the show over the many years I have been attending. My home is filled with #brimfieldfinds (click here to see some of them).
In general, Brimfield is just a fun place to be. Dealers are doing what they love and shoppers are doing what they love. Most transactions, including the haggling (which is expected), go smoothly and everyone walks away happy.
Below are some of my tips on what to do and, just as importantly, what not to do to walk away with the item you want at a fair price without ruining someone’s day.
|Country Bumpkin Antiques, Shelton Antique Shows|
- DO have a rough idea of what you are willing to pay. Only start negotiating if you and be serious about buying the item. If the asking price isn’t in the ballpark of what you are willing to pay, consider moving on or be up front about that from the beginning. As a general rule, dealers expect to come down at least 10-20% of their marked price.
- DO act friendly. To put it as simply as possible, just be nice. It doesn’t have to be a competition with a winner and a loser. They are selling an item you want to buy. How nice that you found each other! You don’t have to swap life stories (although I’ve seen it happen) but some friendly conversation doesn’t hurt. Plus, no one wants to give a really good deal to someone who they dislike.
- DO ask if they can do better on the price. This is expected! There are a few ways to word this but I find that keeping it simple is best. My favorites are:
- Can you do better on the price?
- What’s your best price on this?
- Is this the best you can do?
- Would you be willing to take x amount?
- DO bundle. It’s true, the more you buy the happier they will be to discount. Just decide if you want to ask for better prices on each individual item or a discount at the end once you have selected your items.
- DO pay in cash but don’t expect it to get you a better price. Most dealers only accept cash (that’s starting to change but slowly) so it doesn’t really sweeten the deal as much as it would in other venues. If you plan on using a card let them know up front, especially on large purchases.
- DO shop the last day for some good deals. This isn’t a hard fast rule but generally dealers will discount something a bit more to avoid packing it up and bringing it home (especially if it’s big and heavy). But don’t expect them to be giving stuff away. Many dealers have stores to go back to or another show right around the corner so they aren’t desperate to get rid of things.
|Anthony Rosa Modern, Central Park Antique Shows|
- DON’T offer half (or less than half) of the marked price. I’ve seen people recommend starting at half as a bargaining strategy. I don’t recommend this. It rubs dealers the wrong way. They still might make a counter offer or they just might decide you aren’t the kind of shopper they want to give an extra good price to.
- DON’T be rude. I know I said this above, but it bears repeating: just be nice. Most Brimfield dealers are there because they are really good at what they do. A lot run reputable businesses back home and use Brimfield to make connections and shop for new merchandise. Don’t assume they are all desperate for each and every sale. Waving a $20 bill in their face (I have seen this happen) is condescending and probably won’t get the reaction you’re hoping for.
- DON’T walk away and expect the item to be there when you return. Sometimes hesitating or walking away can work in your favor. The dealer might come down a little bit more to make the sale but you also might miss out on the item entirely. Merchandise moves fast in Brimfield, particularly early in the show so don’t walk away if it’s something you really want. You might not see it again.
|Traditional Marine, Black Swan Meadows|
- DO see Brimfield as an opportunity to see the best vintage and antique dealers in the country all in one location. These hard working men and women scour the globe to bring merchandise to one location three times a year. They find it, clean it, repair it, store it, move it, display it and have it available to find new homes. Please treat them with respect and marvel at the history, the manpower, the creativity and the passion it takes to make this happen every year for 60 years!
- Finally, please DO have a great time treasure hunting!
See you there!,
If you’re heading to the Brimfield Antique Show, be sure to download the FREE Brimfield Flea Finder app to help you navigate the show! Get show info, search for specific dealers and items, locate food, bathrooms, ATMs and more!
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