Behind-the-Scenes at Brimfield, MA and Round Top, TX Antique Shows
Our salvage team consists of Josh B., Justin G., and their fearless leader, Nigel B. All share a love of old things and a keen eye for one-of-a-kind finds. Several times a year, they hit the road to attend antique shows in search of buried treasures to bring home with them. The days are long and sometimes grueling – but never dull.
Fascinated by these antique-buying blitzes, we asked the salvage team to answer a few questions about their recent visits to the Brimfield Antique Show in Massachusetts, and the Round Top Antique Fair in Texas. Here’s what they had to say:
Q: It seems like “everyone” goes to Brimfield. If that’s the case, how do you find unique salvage at such a popular show?
Justin: The beauty of Rejuvenation is that we purchase for multiple markets. What customers like in Seattle is different than what they want in Portland, Berkeley, or Los Angeles. This lets us look for a broader range of items and remain flexible. Also, having multiple buyers, all with different specialties, interests, and expertise, gives us a great leg up. What one of us likes another may not even notice – another reason we can serve a broader clientele than, say, a sole proprietor antique or specialty shop.
Q: How does Round Top in Texas differ from Brimfield in Massachusetts?
Justin: Round Top is the Wild West. It’s much more spread out and casual. Whereas Brimfield is shoulder to shoulder with people, Round Top happens at a slower pace. Also folks just seem friendlier at Round Top.
Josh: Then of course, there’s the weather – Massachusetts is a little cooler than Texas.
Q: Do the antiques at each show reflect the region in which they are located?
Justin: Yes, absolutely. Round Top has a bunch of southern, cowboy-based stuff. The Brimfield show had more early Americana and fine antiques in regular booths.
Josh: We definitely saw more cowboy boots for sale in Texas.
Nigel: Lots of cowhide-upholstered armchairs and antique firearms in Texas!
Q: What is the one item you wish you could have brought back?
Justin: There was a large shoe repair neon sign, in the shape of a shoe. That was pretty neat.
Josh: Southern hospitality, pecan pie, and the lit American flag sign we posted on Instagram (@rejuvenation).
Nigel: The American flag sign was probably the best sign I’ve ever seen. Truly amazing. The one item I wanted for myself was a 19th-century beaver-pelt top hat with Native American hand-embroidered seed beads decorated in red, white, and blue. A true piece of Americana.
Q: What item were you most proud of finding?
Justin: I think the Frink floor lamp. We all missed it at first.
Josh: We bought a few items from a dealer, and as I was writing his check, Nigel stepped out of his booth. He looked back in from outside and the lamp was right in front of us.
Nigel: It’s such a rare thing to find at all, let alone in original condition, like the one we got.
Q: Any big surprise items?
Justin: Lots of good lighting.
Josh: Nigel found a very large, handpainted carnival sign. We were buying a few things and Nigel stepped away for a minute to go to the restroom. On his way back he wandered into a very unorganized booth. Buried behind a few tables and barely visible was the corner of this beautiful piece. We dug it out, and it ended up being one of our favorite items from the trip.
Nigel: The carnival sign is amazing. I still can’t believe it was buried in the back of that booth. If it had been up front they would have sold it in a heartbeat and we’d have never seen it at all!
Q: What is a typical show day like? How many hours do you put in? Do you run around like maniacs or saunter? Do you have favorite dealers?
Justin: Wake up at 6ish, drive 90ish minutes just to get to the show area, eat breakfast in the truck. Pack up yesterday’s purchases until it gets too hot to bear inside the trailer, then shop for a bit, and get lunch. Go out shopping again until you realize that if you don’t stop to pick up the things you’ve already bought, you are going to run out of light. Then frantically drive around to pick up all your buys. After that, go back to the trailer and unload in the waning light. Finish the day talking to more vendors about where to shop the next day. Grab dinner and network some more, then drive back to the hotel and hopefully arrive by 11:00 or 12:00 PM.
Nigel: Justin’s answer is just about perfect. In 95 degree heat, though, nobody is rushing around. If you did, you’d only last for one hour instead of 12 to15 hours a day for a week! You have to pace yourself. There were definitely dealers who had more items that were Rejuvenation’s kind of thing. Perhaps not coincidentally, those were also the people who were the most fun to spend time with!
Q: What do you like best about shows?
Justin: Meeting folks who are into the same stuff we are.
Josh: The opportunity to meet people, hear their stories, and find unique, amazing pieces for Rejuvenation.
Nigel: Ditto. It’s a visual feast, and definitely gives you a unique perspective on people, culture, and commerce. I saw one great dealer’s sign that said “DEAD PEOPLE’S STUFF” – that just about sums it all up.
Q: What do you like least about shows?
Justin: Being away from my wife and two cats.
Josh: It’s hard being away from my wife and two dogs. Also I miss being able to cook at home.
Nigel: Long days, extreme weather, sore feet, crummy coffee, hotel beds, being away from home (wife, animals, peace and quiet).
Q: What’s up with the white boots?
Josh: It rained five or six inches the night before so we stopped for some rubber boots. They had black but we’d never seen white ones before so…
Nigel: In Texas, they call ’em “shrimp boots!!
Q: When is your next buying trip?
Justin: We have a local show in Portland very soon. We may also go to a few others over the winter.
Josh: Round Top’s spring show is in March 2014. We are currently researching some winter trips. Stay tuned.
Q: And finally, have you ever run into Leigh and Leslie Keno at a show?
Justin: No, not yet. I did, however, grow up very close to David Rago antiques.
Josh: Not yet…but we did see Tommy Hilfiger. And his bodyguards.
Nigel: Haven’t ever seen the Kenos at an antique show. But I think maybe I spotted them in the crowd at the Black Sabbath show this summer…?