Anyone who has watched the television shows, Antique Roadshow or Pickers, knows how fun, and sometimes lucrative, collecting old things can be. Some of the things don’t even have to work. They just have to be old. Things can be rusty, chipped, and have had a bad case of woodworms. It matters not.
Some collectors pay exorbitant amounts of cash for an item not meaning anything to anyone except them. But. They just had to have it.
Antiquing is not always about the cash value an item will bring. To the ordinary collector, it’s more a matter of finding things that appeal to them. Whether it’s an old medicine bottle worth a few bucks or a preserved piece of wedding cake from one of King Henry’s many trips down the aisle, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and they know what they like. Plain and simple.
It is the belief of many that certain areas of the country are better for finding what someone is looking for. If someone is into antique Mexican pottery they should probably travel out west, but for the more eclectic minded who don’t focus on any one thing, they are everywhere.
That being said, there are certain areas where a treasure hunt will yield easier and better results. Just about everybody lives within a reasonable proximity of one. To anyone who enjoys getting their hands dirty from poking around in dusty shops full of cluttered shelves, what could be more fun than planning an entire weekend around pursuing your hobby?
Brimfield Antique Show – Brimfield, MA
Dress for comfort and put your best walking shoes on for this one. Grab a hiking stick if you need to. The Brimfield Antique show boasts over 5000 antique vendors spread across 23 farm fields. It is the largest show in New England, but the town of Brimfield claims it is the biggest in the country. If you can’t find it here, chances are it can’t be found.
Exhaust fans from the many food vendors seem to be pointed straight at the crowds, meaning you can’t help but stay hungry. The atmosphere is fun and lighthearted. Antique enthusiasts from near and far rummage through the array of items for anything that may speak to their hearts.
There are several museums in town and a nice selection of restaurants, including some quaint privately owned ones located in renovated houses. Plan on at least one of your meals being at “River Rock Farm.” You may drive back to Brimfield again sometime just to eat there.
The All Night Flea Market – Wheaton, IL
Technically billed as a flea market, many shoppers are surprised by the number of antiques that make their way to the vendor’s tables.
To get the absolute best rock bottom price you have ever, or will ever again, pay for an antique, there is but one night a year to accomplish this. It falls on the third weekend of each and every August. Thousands of flashlight-wielding bargain hunters rummage through the merchandise of hundreds of vendors. Only when the sun comes up do the sleepy-eyed hunters haul their loot home.
Wheaton is only 30 miles west of Chicago, so planning an entire weekend around the market should be an easy thing to do.
Eureka Springs, AR
Eureka Springs is known for its antique shops, of which there are many. In addition, there is an antique mall called the “Old Sale Barn Antique Outlet,” which gives smaller dealers space to sell their collectibles.
Mountain Eclectic, located on Main Street, is not to be passed by. Even the most eccentric of antique buyers, usually leave the store holding something. If antique pottery is more to your liking, such as a McCoy vase, visit Crystal Garden Antiques on Spring St.
It would not be difficult to spend an entire weekend in Eureka. With plenty of lodging and RV campsites available, it’s a cool place to spend a few days anyway. Eureka Springs is only an hour drive from Branson, Missouri, give or take a few, so it’s pretty easy to go catch one of the shows they are famous for while you’re in the area.
New England is rich in antiques, but no place any more so than Woodbury, Conncticut, known as the “Antiques Capital of Connecticut.” Martha Stewart even shops there so that should tell you something. Don’t expect to rummage through clutter or gets your hands filthy. The shops in Woodbury are well-appointed and orderly.
Over 50 years ago, some renowned antique dealers took a liking to the picturesque setting of the town and started renovating early Victorian style homes around Main Street into their places of business.
Other shops soon followed. Nowadays, every period and style of antique from any category can be found, as well as bench-made reproductions from around the world.
Woodbury operates at a slow pace. Spend a weekend at one of the local Inns or B&B’s and dine in the local restaurants. You may never want to leave. While you are there be sure to visit the art galleries and tour some of the historic homes. A weekend in Woodbury may not be long enough.
While Florida may not be on anyone’s radar as a great place to uncover antiques, one town in the state most definitely is. Micanopy.
Located just a few miles south of Gainesville, visitors are well advised to find accommodations there, because you probably won’t find anywhere to stay in Micanopy. Besides the movie, Doc Holiday, starring Michael J. Fox, being filmed on location there, were it not for the antique dealers, the town would go unnoticed. If you plan well ahead of time, you might find room at the Herlong Historic Inn & Garden, a bed and breakfast in a restored mansion on the National Register of Historic Places, that is rumored to be haunted by a friendly former owner, Inez Herlong Miller.
Once you’re done shopping, don’t worry, Gainesville, home of the University of Florida, has plenty to offer visitors.
Now you know where some great places are. There are plenty more where those came from, from the hills of West Virginia to the plains in Kansas, to Upstate New York. Go ahead. Make a weekend of it.