Saturday, May 11, 2013

Brimfield Now and Again

It is May just before Mother's Day.  Every year around this time antique dealers and collectors from all over the U.S.of A. and even people from other countries start getting ready to leave their area and head toward a small New England Town, Brimfield, Mass.  I have done these shows for many years both as an exhibitor and as a buyer.

My first Brimfield experience was less than what I had expected.  My oldest son, Chris, and I went up to set up on a whim with a fellow antique dealer and friend.  We were to share a tent with them for a week.  We got up early and traveled all day arriving at Brimfield in late afternoon.  It was May and it had been a rainy year much like this year and was still very cool out.  The field when we got there was water logged.  It was damp and very chilly.  The later in the day the colder it became, until I was chilled to the bone. At that point I swore that I would never ever do Brimfield again.  We worked unpacking and setting up until almost eleven o'clock.  The friends that we were setting up with had made reservations at a motel 45 minutes away>  It was too late to go there that night.  We found an all night diner and got a late snack and then found a place to rest until early the next morning.  Customers started coming in the wee hours armed with flash lights. We struggled to get ourselves together and then the sales began.  It was totally amazing the numbers of people out and the volume of sales.  By the end of the day although we were dead tired we had changed our minds about doing the show.

I ended up doing the Brimfield shows for around twelve years 3 times a year.  All sorts of things happened one year we had to pack up everything because of a September Hurricane. We stayed in a motel all packed until it by passed us and then set up all over again.  There was one May that the temperatures rose into the 90's and when we got to our tent it felt like a steam oven inside.  We got to know and grow fond of all our neighbors who set up around us.  Every year it was like old home week.  After a few shows we decided that it was not fair to leave our Golden Retriever, Samantha, behind.  The first show that we let her come to, she was so excited that she jumped up into our fully loaded van with the biggest smile on her face.  From then on she went with us to the shows.  She would sit under the table and watch the people go by.

We found that the shows worked for is in two ways, we could sell and we could buy as well.  Lewis who had been in College and then later working in New York City would come up to be with us.  It was here that Lewis discovered that he could find and sell antiques.  His first purchase was a piece of pottery by the first American abstract artist, George Ohr.  He thought the piece was nice and then found out who made it.  When he sold it, the piece ended up it a museum for Ohr.  The die was cast and he found himself drawn to the hunt for hidden treasures.  It really is no surprise as he is the third generation treasure hunter.  My father Don Lewis ran Auslew Gallery in Norfolk.  He had collected paintings in my grandmother's attic until he opened his art gallery in 1953. 


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