amy azzaritobrimfieldfleamarkets

brimfield 2010: flea market trends

by Amy Azzarito

Last week we had such a great time at Brimfield that it was hard to focus long enough to take everything in, but we were able to notice a few trends popping up here and there- some of which we even noticed popping up in this weekend’s trade fairs (ICFF and NSS). Today we’re going to be sharing the trends we saw at the show, along with trends spotted by some of our favorite flea market goers: Christiane Lemieux of DwellStudio, Russell Whitmore of Erie Basin, and Pam Zsori of Ink & Peat.

But first, what did we spot? Well, you can pretty much find anything at Brimfield, but we noticed a few key trends. And as always the overarching trend of vintage industrial was still going strong – with the JCrew and Ralph Lauren scooping it up fast! But here were some trends we saw popping up everywhere:

  • birdcages
  • Native american blankets/rugs
  • fishing baskets
  • vintage racks/boxes
  • demijohns/vintage bottles/vintage terra cotta pots

CLICK HERE for our favorite images of each and all the trends spotted by our friends this year!

As the images above make clear- bird cages were EVERYWHERE this year. We couldn’t walk down an aisle without seeing some sort of bird cage hiding in a box or displayed proudly on a table top. Grace managed to resist the urge to buy one and turn it into a plant hanger, but she may give in next time…

Beacon or ‘camp’ blankets were another trend we saw popping up everywhere. Inspired by Navajo weavings, these blankets and their colorful patterns were all over the show in both blanket and rug form.

Demijohns seemed to be on everyone’s “must have” list last year, and they were still big at this year’s show- and available for a wide range of prices, which was great.

We saw a lot of professional-looking groups tagging pots like these, so keep your eyes peeled for pieces like this popping up in catalogs and store displays in the future- terra cotta olive oil jugs were definitely popular this year.

Vintage boxes and baker’s racks were definitely hot this year- they’d been scooped up by the dozen when we hit this booth, mostly because they were priced at $80 a piece- a steal by Brimfield standards.

Vintage mercury and other types of glass bottles disappeared faster than we could find them. These were tagged by the J Crew visual merchandising team so if you see them in next year’s catalogs you’ll know where they found them!

We noticed these wicker fishing baskets in a ton of booths- in a wide range of prices. These models were in great condition and were going for around $350+, but we saw other options for close to $100.

photos above by Christiane Lemieux
Christiane Lemieux, the founder and creative director of DwellStudio.

  • Curtis Jere-esque like wall sculptures – these were everywhere in every form.  This was the year of 3D decoration
  • Frogs – are frogs the new bird?  We saw frogs in every form.
  • Mary Kate Olsen – This girl were snapping up all the best jewelry – she’s cute, quick and knew exactly what she was looking for.

photos above by Christiane Lemieux
Christiane Lemieux‘s favorite finds:
A great occasional table with a travertine top and brass legs – elegant proportions, modern and just a little fancy, a cork and brass lamp – I am loving the cork – the texture and color is great and I love the brass accents.  Brass was the thing that pulled all my purchases together and a black and brass lamp – I am on the hunt for all things black.  This was a score at $35!

Russell Whitmore of Erie Basin:

  1. There seem to be a lot of sellers of vintage industrial stuff lately- especially lighting. I think prices for industrial stuff are probably at an all time high.
  2. Apothecary Stuff. People love it, and dealers selling the contents of old pharmacies always have a mob of buyers.
  3. I’ve been seeing more and more dealers selling antique outdoor furniture and garden objects– I think in part because it’s become part of an indoor decorating aesthetic.
  4. Dealers that sell oak furniture have almost no buyers or lookers.
  5. At long last, ratty old taxidermy animal heads are going unsold.

Pam Zsori
, of Ink & Peat, is a floral and home designer in Portland, Oregon.

It is hard to say that Brimfield necessarily has trends in that it is an antique show where you can find pretty much anything. Some people have been selling the same thing for 30 years! You do however see patterns develop over time.

  1. Industrial – this one has been brewing at Brimfield for about 3 years. It started with a few vendors and now is quite well represented. Some of it is furniture (benches, tables) from old industrial factories (I got a steel bread hauling cart to use as a linens display shelf) that is cleaned up and ready to use. Other pieces are clever re-inventions. Dealers combine old part with new – to create new looks. I love this trend as it is reusing old materials repurposed that people used to just consider trash.
  2. Gustavian sparsity – this trend has also been developing in the home decor new market for several years and is now going strong at Brimfield. Old or reproduction Gustavian furniture in grey and white, mixed with nubbly flax grain sacks, rough-hewn linens, French scrolly monograms, and wood. Also deconstructed chairs, settees, and fainting couches that have been stripped down to the padding or horsehair bought and used as is. This looks great in rooms with all white. I have also seen this look on blogs and magazines with walls that are stripped down of their wallpaper and left raw and unpainted. This look is also great with some of the old black and white train destination scrolls that have been popping up at the fleas.
  3. Boho – there seems to be more and more vendors with antiques from India, Turkey, China, and Pakistan. We certainly see this trend in the home and fashion markets and it is starting to fill out here. Rugs, delicate embroidered textiles, Suzani, jewelry, wood printing blocks are just some of the treasures that can be found.

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  • Trend? Well, I saw so…many watering cans. Everywhere, in every size, every color and shape. Not really a trend, and to be expected in the spring, but I had never seen so many!
    Just posted some thoughts on my trip there: http://bit.ly/cBwtLI
    Actually, I didn’t think the jewelry was that good this year….can’t believe I didn’t buy any!

  • This is a very in-depth post on Brimfield trends– I love it!!!

    I went on Sunday to see what’s left over after all of the weekday action; there were still remnants of the trends mentioned… a few fishing baskets here and there, the occasional camp blanket, some nice industrial furnishings (and alot of examples of old trends that people are clearly getting tired of– antlers, taxidermy, glass carboys, glove molds, etc…), but it was very clear that we were just shopping the leftovers. I reported on my Sunday experience here: http://findermaker.blogspot.com/2010/05/dispatch-from-brimfield-report-on-final.html
    I provided links to your Brimfield posts so that my readers might get a more complete impression of the Brimfield experience; your posts comprise an invaluable primer on the subject for anyone interested in Brimfield! Thanks for your diligent reporting!

  • I am a huge Tom Robbins fan, so naturally the wooden Even Cowgirls Get the Blues sign in the second photo caught my eye. I’ve been noticing that my aesthetic is drifting to include more “dated elements.” I don’t feel that I should describe this shift as retro, because it presents the idea that old things can be revalued only if they are stylish, whereas I am attracted to authentic gems of the past that some may consider to have been “left behind.” My thought is that while trends can keep things fresh and “in the now,” it’s also important sometimes to retain a sense of historically authentic permanence that does not stoop to flavors of the moment.

  • Hi. What a great report its incredibly interesting to note that the U.S. Trends are the same as here in the U.K. This market looks incredible we don’t see the volume
    anymore but I thinks that’s because we live on a small island!

  • i didn’t know those large blown glass vessels were called “demijohns”, thanks! i was bummed to find “made in china” stickers on more than a few of these at the show though :( so much for antiques?

    • kat

      yeah, there’s a lot of new stuff mixed in. i was surprised to see stuff from roost, anthro and terrain for sale (some still with stickers on them)


  • RoundTop in Texas had a lot of the same trends. The DemiJohns were all over the place. As were the mercury jars. I had purchased a few last fall and the same dealer was there again with them. He also goes to Brimfield so I’m guessing it was the same person selling them there too.
    Personally I’ve always been a fan of the industrial style so I’m happy it’s becoming more of a trend than mid-century modern, but I have to admit to being a little sad at how very trendy it’s becoming. Factory carts were everywhere at Roundtop. As well as anything zinc. And medical cabinets too.

    The fact that steampunk style is becoming bigger and bigger is a sign to me that people are trying to find a mix of vintage and modern in their life and I think that finding a happy mix of handmade antiques and newer modern pieces is something that a lot of younger people are looking for and that trend seems most obvious at places like Roundtop and Brimfield.

    It was fun to see this post! Thanks!

  • I was at the fair on saturday and sunday and I only saw a few birdcages so I think those got snapped up quite fast. I also noticed old lanterns at tons of booths for $30-$165. I managed to get one for $15, but it’s pretty rusty.
    I thought I made a great purchase when a dealer – unprompted- offered to sell me some george & martha washington silhouettes for $5, down from $20. When I got home, I removed the piece of paper stuck into the Martha silhouette and saw that it had been strategically covering a yellowed/cracked area! Kinda bummed about that.

  • Yes, so hard to pass of those great bird cages. I was mostly caged in my booth, but got to scurry around a tad. I saw lots of fantastic iron gates, grills and other iron work. Loved it. Nice to see the economy coming back, a little during the week.

  • ..nice to find this site…i was a seller for the week (first time) at brimfield, and find ev’ones perspectives quite interesting.Remember dealers are mostly just compulsive buyers. Its sad :( … anyway..did anyone see the mexican bananas? whoa!..so cool..simple wooden sunbleached beauties, a buck apiece!! still sorry i only bought fifty ..cant stop thinkin bout ..told ya it was sad . Sheltons field in back.
    listen…Sheltons is the coolest lil field…its the one with the lil creek running along the left edge (as you face field) …ev’one seems to be a lil more relaxed there. DO THIS… ! just go ver to that creek,sit on the rocks and put your feet in there … oh my God! a perfect sittin creek. best spots are closer to the road ..up near front. if ya see a guy there , say ..joeeey? ..yeah its me. spent more time there and SHOPPING…lucky i had someone helping with the booth (Industrial w/cottage yearnings) Trends?…i,ll listen to you guys…Here’s what i snagged… great early affordable tinware…a pile of mismatched forged hinges..some over five feet…a great table top…and some superb African pieces. Oh man!… listen…i’m not tryin to sell African…but i like it too…so ive tried to educate myself….and my intuitions are usually good, and i can tell you…there are GREAT buys to be had with many of the African sellers at Brimfield. There is a guy near the office and bathrooms at Sheltons field named,..his name is Abdoul…i can tell you that much of his stuff is of a quality worthy of Sothebys… at a fraction. That most blows my mind at Brimfield! and thats my memories of brimfield 2010.
    p.s. im like less than a city block from Abdoul… joeys “one World” stop by , i’ll walk ya over there. Otherwise we’re tryin to get a spot “over by the creek” Hope ta see ya there….gimme a hot spot too! joey

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