Published: May 30, 2017
Rusty and Kate Corriveau are no strangers to Brimfield. The veteran show promoters ran Crystal Brook for seven years before selling it and taking a small hiatus. But now they are back with J&J at Brimfield Auction Acres, the field that started it all under the direction of Gordon Reid in 1959. Growing up on the fields, the Corriveaus have a long and devoted history with the show they now own. We spoke with the couple following their first successful edition at the helm of one field shoppers cannot get enough of.
You two have a long history with the Brimfield markets. Can you fill us in?
Rusty is a Brimfield native who worked the shows as a teenager, including parking cars for the original Gordon Reid (J&J) Field. He and his lifelong friends have many colorful stories of the life lessons acquired at “The Show.” When my husband retired from the USMC, we moved back to Brimfield to raise our children in this very special town. We purchased Crystal Brook in 2004 and found it immensely rewarding and exciting. My three daughters – Abby, 16; Kara, 14; and Sidney, 11 – all got their first jobs at J&J’s Brimfield Auction Acres, starting as hand stampers and being “promoted” to sanitation engineers.
What made you want to own and run another field after having sold Crystal Brook in 2011?
When we sold Crystal Brook, our initial plan was not to get back into show promoting. The timing was right and we thought we had turned the page. But I think our genuine love for the show, the dealers and the outdoor field dynamics eventually led us back.
How did you come to acquire the show?
We approached Mr Reid’s daughters, Judy Mathieu and Jill Lukesh [J&J], in the fall of 2016 and began negotiations. It was helpful for both parties that we were neighbors and friends while we lived and ran Crystal Brook across the street for years prior. I believe it gave them much happiness to sell to people who understand the business and have a passion for the Brimfield show.
Rusty, can you describe what it’s like to go from parking cars at J&J to owning it?
I am in awe every time I drive up to J&J or when I look at the house and barn from the back of the property. I feel very fortunate to own the property with Katy and I feel a sense of responsibility from the day we closed to every time an antiques dealer arrives. There’s a feeling of nostalgia and appreciation growing up in this town.
You have your first J&J show under your belt now; how did it go?
It was as we expected: completely exhilarating and exhausting. Based on a survey we handed out, the dealers had a very successful show and 100 percent said they would return. Bottom line, we know that is what matters most.
What sets J&J apart from the other fields throughout the week?
When we first started with Crystal Brook, we wondered why J&J didn’t start earlier in the week, but we came to learn that experienced dealers and shoppers know that this category of antiques and collectibles is special. More than 75 percent of our dealers set up at J&J exclusively, and the ones who set up at an earlier show categorize different goods for each show. We also learned that our growing number of younger dealers appreciate the Friday/Saturday so as they begin their new venture into the antiques world, they still have the ability to not take an entire week off their “regular” jobs. I believe it is considered as the grand finale of Brimfield Week, and well worth waiting for.
Any exciting changes for the field in the future?
Yes, there will be. First off, dealers are now able to set up a few hours earlier than they were permitted in the past, allowing them to set up without flashlights! The overwhelming gratitude reassured us we did the right thing. We’ve decided to begin expanding our field deeper by starting a referral system for our current customers. One hundred percent of the surveys said they would like to see us grow, so we’d like to reward their partnership in helping us do so. Also, we have plans underway to renovate the barn – circa 1820s – into a Winery and Cider Barn. This will be in operation throughout the year, where we hope to engage the community to use our land for community and private events when the show is out of town. We have begun and plan to expand a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We are fully invested in working as partners with our dealers and igniting the passion in the upcoming generations – it’s going to be a great ride.
How have you seen Brimfield evolve in all the time that you have been working at it?
I’d have to say that it is more that I evolved. Being a kid and wondering what all the commotion was around all these peoples’ “stuff” to a coming of age, realizing the show’s national notoriety and respecting the wealth of knowledge of these experienced dealers. I have gained an appreciation of how antiquing should be called a dedication more than an occupation. Here at Brimfield, people want to connect, touch and learn. There is true reward to both parties in that exchange. I think it’s important that J&J at Brimfield Auction Acres has maintained a reputation of fine antiques and collectibles, as that is our niche. I think we will experience an awakening of the next generation who are realizing the antiques and collectibles market holds invaluable treasures that cannot be found in a retail store. Each “find” comes with a backstory and you get to add your name to its journey… sort of like us and the Brimfield Show.
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