Buying Antiques at an Antique Show

Buying antiques at an antique show can be a really enjoyable experience. Antique shows can come in many shapes and sizes. Unfortunately there are not as many antiques shows as there once was. However there are some super size antique shows that are a antique buyers dream. When we first started selling antiques, there were antique shows everywhere. In the late 80’s and early 90’s most of the major retail malls would have a couple of antiques shows in the mall. Antiques dealers would set up in the middle of the walkways. There was a regular circuit of antique shows in retail malls. Now I don’t know of any of these. I think the liability insurance began to get too expensive for the promoters.

There are still many local antique shows of varying sizes. Some of these are specialty shows such as an antique book show. There are many antique dealers who rely on antique shows to make a living. So attending a local antique show might give you the opportunity to see antiques and collectibles that you would not see anywhere else. This is especially true if you attend the huge antiques shows. Being from Dallas, I am most familiar with the giant Texas antique show known as Round Top. Brimfield in Massachusetts is another large one. I think these are the two largest in the United States, and maybe the world. There are other important shows also. I know I have a friend that goes to the Baltimore Antique show every year. There is a large Miami antique show that I have heard a lot about. There is bound to be a large New York antique show, and there are some in California. I am going to concentrate on the Round Top Antiques Show since I have shopped there and sold there as a dealer also. I have not had the pleasure of going to Brimfield.

If you have never attended one of these antique fairs, you will be in for a surprise. The problem I have now is trying to describe it to you. First, I will say this antique show is not for everyone. I always tell people, it is kind of like going to Vegas, everyone ought to try it once. Then it will either get in your blood and you will want to go to everyone of the shows. Or you might be the kind that says, “Been there, done that,” and you will never go back. I might also add that calling it the Round Top Show is really not accurate. There are many different shows taking place over a two week period. They roughly take place the first weeks of April and October, but I will give you some web sites to get the exact dates. If you have any interest in going to Round Top, and if you are an antique collector, dealer, or just casual Buying Antiques at an Antique Showobserver, you really ought to do it once. But you have to plan ahead. The town of Round Top has a population of around 100 people. The surrounding towns are larger, but not large enough to handle the thousands of people who attend this twice a year antique extravaganza. We set up at the Marburger Farm Antique Show, one of the two largest shows at Round Top. The original show at Round Top is best known as the Big Red Barn.

The reason I love this antique event, and it really is an event, is you will see things here you just will not see anywhere else. Unless you are willing to drive and fly thousands of miles. Antique dealers come from most, if not all of the lower 48 states as well as many European countries to display their antiques. In close proximity to us in our tent at the Marburger farm Antique Show there were dealers from Indiana, Washington, Arizona, Georgia, and several other states. You could find everything from fine antiques & collectibles from England and France, great Americana, prints, American oak, antique leather bound books from Sweden, African primitives, and on and on. The dealer right across from us is known for his superb selection of unusual Americana. That is one of the two largest shows, which are both paid admissions shows. There are many of the shows that don’t charge an admission. Some are outside in fields and more like a flea market (see the article on buying antiques at a flea market)  few are inside in buildings, others in huge tents, and any other thing you can imagine. I will not try to list all of the different kinds of antiques you can find, but since they come from many countries and all over t he United States, you can just about find anything. Not only are there different shows, this event spreads out over several miles and even different towns. Even if antiques are not your bag, there are many other things being sold here. You can find anything from vintage clothes as well as new fashions, to new bedding from Europe, antique jewelry as well as new custom jewelry. And food and more food being offered to all of the hungry shoppers. The food alone could be worth the trip.

Many of the shoppers come to spend the week, the reason you need to plan ahead is to  be able to get lodging. Plan to spend at least three days to get a chance to experience this huge Texas antique show, many stay much longer. You might wonder why this show is basically out in the middle of no where. It was started many years ago by an antique show organizer who did antique shows in Houston and Austin. Round Top is located roughly half way between these two cities. So she thought it would be a good place to do a show and draw from both cities. Driving a few miles never stopped serious antique dealers. Of course no one would have predicted how this would grow into the event it has become. New shows are sprouting up all of the time to try to take advantage of the thousands of antique collectors that come antique shopping.

There is also some fun activities in the evening. There is a great restaurant, Royers Round Top Café, but you will need reservations to eat here. Don’t expect any special treatment here. My wife saw the owner, who has a little of the famous “Soup Nazi” in his personality, yell at Randy Travis to not expect any favors. There are other good restaurants in nearby towns. Some, you would never expect, like the great little Chinese restaurant in the Wal-Mart strip center in Giddings. Also there is entertainment at some of the show locations in the evenings as well as late shopping some evenings. One event the ladies seem to enjoy, is the big dance where many of the ladies wear 50’s prom dresses. Of course this is dependent on whether you have any energy left over from some serious antiquing. This is really a shop till you drop event.

Be sure and wear comfortable shoes sand clothing and bring something for all kinds of weather. It can be in the 80’s or 90’s one day and a couple of days later in the 50’s and 60’s. If it rains a lot, it can be muddy in the fields. I have concentrated on the Round Top Show but there may be some in your part of the country that I haven’t seen. Also you might just see a celebrity or two here. We have seen a couple of well known movie stars at the Marburger Farm Antique show.

I hope I have given you at least a glimpse of what you might expect when you buy antiques at an antique show. Buying antiques at an antique show can be one of the most enjoyable ways to buy antiques.

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