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Great collectibles, great people pack Brimfield

by Sandra Lee Stuart (09/08/08).

Want a mind-blogging selection of antiques and collectibles? Then you’ve got to head to tiny Brimfield, Mass., where three times a year what is arguably the largest outdoor antiques show is open for business. If you can’t find collectibles that excite you at the 5,000 dealers, I don’t know where you can.

At my three stints at Brimfield this year, I found myself collecting something other than my favorite baseball cards. I collected a bunch of great people who matched my enthusiasm for collectibles—and then some.

Who wouldn’t have been excited sharing a booth with the one and only “King of Pop Culture,” Gary Sohmers, famous appraiser for the popular PBS “Antiques Roadshow”? What a gracious neighbor and such a positive presence at Brimfield.

The show was a bit slow as far as Brimfield goes, but that’s to be expected with hurricanes on the way, school starting and gas prices soaring. As always though, the porters were moving furniture, people were pulling wagons, and everyone was smiling.

Me and Auctionwally, antiques and collectibles guru

I was extremely lucky to meet a lot of industry specialists. Walt Kolenda, also known as Auctionwally, was great to talk with and incredibly knowledgeable on industry-related subjects. Listen to Wally’s interesting and informative interview with WorthPoint CEO Will Seippel.

And then there was Chris McCallion, who with his own money from selling antiques and collectibles, produced an indie film about younger generations getting into the business and heading to, you guessed it, Brimfield. Chris’s movie premiered in Brimfield. I counted 90 or so dealers watching this flick, including Wally and me. The movie was a hit in my opinion, and that seemed to be the vibe from the other viewers, as well. Chris can be reached at reachtroll@yahoo.com. Drop him a note to learn the whens and wheres of the film. You’ll want to see it. I’ll keep you posted on the progress and status of Chris’ movie, so stay tuned.

Woodworking envy

Another new friend was dealer Jamie Hanks from Elk Horn Antiques in Michigan. Jamie is a dealer in fine furniture, and what intrigued me was his ability to refinish desirable, but off-condition pieces in his own studio. I have to admit to being a little bit envious of Jamie’s knowledge of woodworking. The ability to transform an otherwise beat-up piece of furniture into something beautiful and functional is truly a special feeling and also a great conservation measure. Why buy particle board at Wal-Mart when there are plenty of solid items to be had for better prices? Nice work, Jamie!

Jill and Jim Elias of Sunnybrook Antiques and Estate Auctions in Swedesboro, N.J., were a very pleasant reminder of why we all go to Brimfield. Their hospitality and expertise were phenomenal, and the quality of their wares reflects years and years of doing what we all love. I want to really thank these folks for working to get younger people involved in the industry. Jill and Jim have sold antiques to the younger generation at their cost in order to promote more interest. So kudos to these great folks for wanting this business and its traditions passed down. We need more of this in today’s market.

18 days in collectibles and antiques heaven

I’m not exaggerating when I say my 18 days in Brimfield this summer was an experience of a lifetime—the buying, selling, networking and most of all, appreciating. I am a hard core in this business and consider myself a very lucky man to participate in the way I do through my job.

I am the stereotype of a young digital-revolution “pup” as the older dealers call me, but if I have anything to do with it, we will pass these treasures on when it is our turn. People my age may not be renting the booths like older dealers, but we are finding new and innovative ways to buy, sell and trade antiques and collectibles.

My hat is off to all the dealers and interesting collectors that I met in Brimfield. I would also like to thank the field owners and the Brimfield committee for making this another great season. If you have never been, put it on your calendar. This is the premier show of the industry in many ways. To quote my friend, Gary Sohmers, “Welcome to the dance.”

See you in May 2009, live from the Brimfield, the place for antiques and collectibles.

For more stories on Brimfield, go to our special features page .

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