Published: June 2, 2020
Klia Ververidis has been a faithful and devoted Brimfield market attendee and dealer since she first attended in the early 1990s. When she and her husband, Arthur Crisafulli, recently acquired the Hertan’s Realty Trust from David Lamberto last fall, she could not wait for the Spring 2020 edition, which would be her inaugural show. And then the COVID-19 pandemic turned her world upside down. When the town of Brimfield, Mass., realized the antiques shows could not proceed as planned and canceled the edition a few weeks before they were due to open, Ververidis had a few short weeks to pull together an online version, but she managed the Herculean task. Antiques and The Arts Weekly reached out to Ververidis to get her take on what went well and what exciting changes are in store for future online editions of this beloved antiques tradition.
Describe your involvement with Brimfield before you bought Hertan’s Field?
My husband and I own Crown Company aka Crown Auctions. We’ve been setting up on Hertan’s field – during all three Brimfield markets – for several years. I had the big tent with the yellow bags where we sold vintage clothes and jewelry. Two years ago, we also started doing the Brimfield Auctions every Thursday night.
Walk me through how the online version of Brimfield came to be?
Brimfield is not just a place to buy and sell; for me, it’s a magical place. We had been talking to David Lamberto about buying the field for a few years. When we finally bought the field in January, I made a promise to myself that there would always be a Hertan’s show even if all of the rest of Brimfield was canceled. When we found out the show was canceled, I wanted to keep that promise. Once states started closing up, we started doing small auctions through Facebook Live. I wanted to still do the Brimfield auction, advertising it as still live from Hertan’s field, maybe doing some virtual booths. I asked some of the dealers who do Hertan’s field if they wanted to do it; they all said yes. Then I posted a video I made about our virtual Brimfield that went viral and dealers from all the fields were calling me asking if they could do it. In the end, we ended up with dealers from every field in Brimfield and seven shows officially participating: Hertan’s, Heart-o-the-Mart, New England Motel, Brimfield Auction Acres (which used to be J&J), Sheltons, Sturtevants and Central Park.
There were other Facebook pages calling themselves Brimfield…any connection to you?
The name ‘Brimfield’ carries a lot of weight in our industry so I’m not surprised people who aren’t affiliated with the actual shows saw an opportunity to benefit from the use of the name but none of those pages were affiliated with our show, which was the official show of actual Brimfield show promoters and Brimfield dealers.
Why did you choose Facebook? Was it the best option?
The whole thing was organized in three weeks so, without more time to plan, Facebook was really the best and only option. We could also do it at a pretty low cost – a few thousand dollars.
What has the response been?
The response has been unbelievable! A few people were anxious to see their videos but for the most part, I have had nothing but positive feedback about the event. People were energetically shopping and they also enjoyed the cultural things that we posted, like the field openings and Ken Sweeney, the banjo guy…those are part of the magic of Brimfield and it made the online event feel like the real event was still going on.
Do you have statistics on how the online version did, and how do those compare with the live Brimfield?
Facebook gave stats from April 20 – which was when the event went up – to May 17, which was when it ended. In that period, we had approximately 156,600 individual users look at the page. Of that, about 90,500 clicked on something. According to the State Police, each Brimfield market attracts more than 50,000 visitors each year.
If you do a July online edition, what would you change? Anything special?
July Brimfield has been canceled, so we are excited to do Brimfield Live (Facebook, @BrimfieldLive) again July 14-19. We are working really hard to add things like e-commerce capability. I am really excited to announce that we are partnering with Ruby Lane, who will host virtual booths. Dealers will be able to open a virtual booth for the show without opening a full Ruby Lane shop. We want people to be able to list things for sale on the platform so that it will go live in tandem with when the show is ‘open.’ It’s something that I really wanted to do for the May show but there just wasn’t enough time. Also, the field openings were so popular we will definitely keep doing those.
My ultimate goal is for the Brimfield Live Online show to mimic the in-person show. Once the fields open back up, we are still going to be doing Brimfield Live Online but it will be easier because we can walk right up to a dealers booth and they can showcase their item and potentially sell it online if it hasn’t sold in person. You might be having a bad show on the field because of weather etc, but you can be selling it online through the Brimfield Live Online show.
There seemed to be a broad variety in the posts people had. Which formats do you think worked best for this forum?
The people who went live, who could interact with customers, were the most successful. The second most effective format was the premade videos featuring items for sale. We will offer more opportunities for dealers to go live in July.
Do you have a standout memory from this?
For me, it’s been all the wonderful messages I got from participants and the way the online version has brought us all closer together. When the in-person show is occurring, we are too busy running our booths and our fields to do much socializing. Through the online show we got to meet our neighbors and people from around the world. Pam and Don Moriarty – they own Heart-o-the-Mart – said it best when they said, “We were able to do something we’ve never been able to do…we attended the New England Motel opening!’
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