Get Prepped For Those Big Antiques Fairs
For really big fairs, you may not have time (or energy!) to cover the whole thing in one day so you'll need to prioritize. If the fair lists their vendors ahead of time, look through their websites to see which ones you'd most like to visit and then go to those people first. Also look ahead to see where the parking is. You may have to park quite far from the fair if you get there late. Which brings us to #2…
Some of these big fairs are where big-time scouts are looking for stuff (we're talking about the staff from Martha Stewart Living, HGTV producers and professional designers). They'll be there early and you should, too! If there are specific items you're looking for or if there are special vendors you want to see, consider paying the extra cost to get in early (if offered). Also, vendors sometimes have reduced prices just during these earlybird hours, which can really save you a lot if you're looking for high ticket items. Another idea is to see if vendors set up a day or two before the official start to the show. They may not all be open, but you’ll truly have first dibs on the ones that are. On the other hand, if your priority is to snag the best deals, going late in the week is best.
It goes without saying that you'll need comfortable shoes. But you'll be so thankful if you bring along an extra pair of lightweight shoes and stick them in your bag. Change them half-way through the day, even if your feet don't hurt! Just changing your footwear gives your feet a break so you can last longer. I’d recommend wearing sneakers with socks as opposed to flip flops or sandals for maximum support. Be sure to check the weather ahead of time, too. If it looks like rain, wear your boots! Many fairs on on grassy fields that can get very muddy.
Take advantage of the bag check station if the fair has one. Totally worth it. You can put your purchases there rather than hiking back to the car several times. If this service isn't available, you can try asking a vendor if they'll hold onto something large once you've paid for it. Just be sure to write down (and maybe even take a photo of) where the booth is. And leave your big purse at home. All you need are sunglasses, a safe place to stash your keys, your phone, chapstick and a thin wallet that's holding cash, your drivers license, and an ATM card in case you need to withdraw more money. Leave the water bottle at home, too! It's too heavy! Yeah, it'll cost you a ridiculous amount to buy a bottle there but you don't want to carry it around any longer than you have to.
These fairs can be overwhelming. Everything will seem enticing and you won't know where to focus. Having a strategy ahead of time will ensure you enjoy yourself! Here are some ideas:
* Pick A Room
You could go with a particular room in mind that you'd like to refresh. Think about objects you'd like to see in that room. It might be a new end table or some fabric to make curtains. Or it might be a color scheme or theme to look out for. If your mind is focused on one room, you'll tend to be less distracted by other things.
* Pick A Season
You could also think seasonally. Do you have a new look you'd like to try out for the holidays? Do you bring out lighter colors for spring or heavier materials for fall? Do you go nautical for summer? If you mentally put yourself in a particular season, you'll be primed for spotting things that remind you of that time of year.
* Add To (or Start!) A Collection
I have several collections going at once. But even if you don't, you might be surprised to find yourself starting one at a fair. Who knew you'd fall in love with 1950s Pyrex, but if you're drawn to one object and it's affordable, go ahead and buy it. Then as you walk around, you might find other examples of the same item or even things that relate to it. I’m pretty sure that once you have three of something, you've got yourself a collection!
* Have Projects In Mind
If you're interested in repurposing items, look through books or blogs that focus on giving new life to old things before you go. Jot down the projects that appeal to you and then you'll be tuned into looking for the items you'll need. One year I was thinking of hanging photos from old canoe paddles. If I didn't have that in mind, I might not have even noticed the paddles propped up in the corner of the vendor's stall.
* Ask Yourself: Is This Trash or Treasure?
One of the most common dilemmas I’ve heard (and felt) is that you see something really awesome but you have no idea what you'd do with it or where you'd put it. So you hem and you haw and you wonder if it would just be more junk to add to the clutter, or if it would inspire a whole new decorating idea for your home. So take into consideration a few things. How much time will you have in the next couple of months to work on re-purposing the piece? If your answer is "none," you may not want to have the thing staring you in the face, reminding you that you never follow through on anything. Or taking up space in your basement until you finally get around to doing something with it. However, maybe you can see this object in your home without having to do anything to it, maybe by throwing it in a jar or a bowl as decor or sticking it out on your porch for the summer to enjoy outside. Then, when a brilliant idea for a remake strikes, you'll have the object ready to go for a transformation! For larger items, ask yourself where you'd put it in your home. If you currently have no room (or use) for it, ask yourself if you love it enough to let go of something else in its place. You gotta love it more than what you already have, otherwise, you're on your way to becoming a hoarder!
Bottom Line: If you love the piece, buy it. But when I say "love," I mean that you can imagine yourself literally smiling every time you see it for the next year or more, AND, you can imagine yourself really regretting it if you were to leave the piece behind. If you are truly smitten with something, it doesn't need to fill a need or have a reason or a purpose. It just has to feel like a beloved treasure.