5 of America’s Best Antique Fairs and Flea Markets
By Kristan Schiller
Sparked in no small way by TV series that traffic in deals, steals and duds, many Americans spend their weekends combing antique show aisles for vintage treasures to carry home in their Tahoes. (The power liftgate*, second-row power-release fold-and-tumble seats and 108.9 cu. ft.* of cargo space practically scream furniture foraging!) The country is peppered with fairs and flea markets overflowing with valuable and not-so-valuable options. Surely you can find your next living room layout or dinner party accessory—it’s all about knowing where to look. From East Coast to West, here are five of the best to get you started.
Brimfield Antique Show
An exhibition of more than 6,000 dealers along a one-mile stretch of Route 20 in Brimfield, MA, this show is one of the world’s largest. (It’s been held in this quintessentially New England town three times a year—May, July and September—since 1959.) Here, you’ll find everything from Bakelite bracelets from the 1960s to estate silver to authentic (and pricey) Victorian furniture.
Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market
At the Midwest’s largest flea market, held from May through October, you can purchase Amish quilts, vintage eyeglasses and even fresh fruit. A 100-acre tent with 900 vendors, the market also draws a crowd for its livestock auction. At the Antique Barn, up to ten rings of antiques are auctioned simultaneously every Wednesday, year-round. Consult the market’s online schedule to see what’s being offered in which barn and when.
Round Top Antiques Fair
Round Top, TX
This mammoth-sized spring and fall antique fair for both serious collectors and novices has been held every six months for the past 43 years in Round Top, Texas. It boasts five major venues—The Marburger Farm Antiques Show, The Big Red Barn, The Big Red Barn Tent, The Continental Tent and Carmine Dance Hall—where you’ll likely find European formal furniture alongside eclectic items from the Lone Star state. In recent years, the fair has spurred a lengthier event called Round Top Antiques Week. The best way to navigate this massive event is by picking up a listings flyer called the Show Daily when you arrive.
Alameda Point Antiques Faire
This massive 800-dealer show is held on California’s decommissioned Alameda Point Naval base the first Sunday of every month. With spectacular views of San Francisco, it’s known for vintage textiles and prints as well as its unique assortment of Art Deco furniture. Clothes hounds will be happy to discover a clique of excellent vintage apparel dealers here who travel the world for their finds.
It’s considered a true New York Experience: On weekends from April through Thanksgiving, more than 200 vendors sell antiques ranging from vinyl records to vintage clothing and jewelry. On Saturdays the market takes place in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn and on Sundays it’s held in nearby Williamsburg. Brooklyn Flea also operates two delectable specialty food markets in Williamsburg and Dumbo—called Smorgasburg—with about 100 local food vendors. This isn’t only a warm-weather market: From Thanksgiving through March, Brooklyn Flea is held indoors in the former Williamsburg Savings Bank building, a stunning Art Deco space at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.
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Kristan Schiller is a New York-based travel writer and blogger whose articles have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Fodor’s, as well as on Forbestraveler.com and Salon.com.
*Standard on LTZ and available on LT.
**Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.