Published: December 8, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Brimfield Vendors Ruby Lane and Instagram
ONLINE – The thrice-annual Brimfield Antique Flea Markets – known to those in the biz simply as “Brimfield” – has a new holiday edition. Trimmed down and running for just three days instead of the usual six, the inaugural edition of the Brimfield Holiday Markets took place online from Friday to Sunday, November 27-29. Featuring festive holiday-themed goods in addition to antique and vintage fare, the show was conducted simultaneously on Instagram (@thebrimfieldshow) and the Ruby Lane platform, with some additional content on the BrimfieldLiveOnline Facebook page.
How did the holiday edition measure up? Not only was it shorter but the number of vendors participating was markedly smaller than before, with 52 exhibitors on Ruby Lane and 59 vendors in the Instagram shows; those numbers are about half of what they had been in the September online version of Brimfield.
For the first time, the managers of BrimfieldLiveOnline (Facebook) and The Brimfield Show (Instagram) collaborated to help promote each other under the hashtag #GiveVintage. That was in addition to the Instagram hashtag #BrimfieldShow and on Facebook #BrimfieldLiveOnline. “We teamed up with the Brimfield Instagram show – there was a lot of cross-promoting, sending people back and forth. We’ve found you can’t be at two places at once, even online,” said BrimfieldLiveOnline manager, Klia Ververidis. “They have Instagram down pretty well; we have Facebook down well. It was easy to partner up by using the same hashtags and it worked out really well. I thought overall the vibe was really upbeat and positive. It felt very jovial and very fun.”
Emily Brandenburg, who manages the Instagram shows with Adam Irish, concurred. “It was more of a partnership this time. Honestly, that’s the best part – people helping people. Klia had proposed a holiday market; it seemed natural to co-host and co-promote each other. The show still ran independently of each other. We had a couple of dealers who did our show and hers who did well. It was good to do it.”
Price points tended to be lower and holiday-themed goods amounted for a significant portion of the sales, a seasonably predictable uptick from how that category performs throughout the year. Jewelry sales – fine, vintage and costume -were also up, following a trend frequently observed as we enter the final stretch before the holidays.
The Ruby Lane platform saw about a dozen new exhibitors joining the Brimfield family, about half of which had existing booths on Ruby Lane. Vendors there were limited to 200 items per booth and there were about 5,600 items still showing in the Brimfield show pages on the last day of the online event, though many were marked as “Sale Pending.” Of the vendors showing on Instagram, most were returning from previous editions, with fewer than ten new exhibitors.
What else was new? In addition to the tutorial and DIY videos that dealers posted on Facebook for BrimfieldLineOnline, a new feature was a few videos of people making holiday recipes, which Ververidis said “was really fun. A lot of people were watching and we had some great comments.”
Brandenburg said the Instagram show posts had about 500,000 views, of which 17,000 were by unique viewers, meaning that those 17,000 viewers kept coming back and looking at posts again and again. “So many dealers emailed us saying how grateful they are,” Brandenburg said. “This brings an awareness to Brimfield that wasn’t there before.”
Ververidis noted that her vendors on Ruby Lane had “a lot” of sales, though the price points were generally smaller. “It was definitely pretty brisk shopping. Much more active than in September. Shopping seemed busiest on Saturday.” She said the Ruby Lane site received a total of about 63,000 hits during the three days of the show.
The Instagram site launched a Black Friday show – appropriately on Friday, November 27, with the hashtag #brimfieldholidaydealersonly and -for those dealers who joined in on Saturday, November 28, the hashtag #holidaymarketday2.
Familiar Hertans field dealer, Clay and Mary Smith of Das Bulli Haus from North Franklin, Conn., specialize in toys and vintage carnival rides and have been participating in the online shows since their inception in May. We spoke with Mary, who said that while they had done “OK” at the previous online shows, they did “very well” at this show. All of their sales were to new clients, with one client purchasing several pieces at once. Sales were made largely to buyers throughout the United States but with one sale to a buyer in Canada and one sale to a client in England. Smith noted that the majority of sales ranged between $20 and $200.
Greg Hamilton of Stoneblock Antiques in Vergennes, Vt., has been participating in the Brimfield Instagram shows since May. When we got him on the phone a few days after the show wrapped, he said he had sold three really nice things – one each from the categories of jewelry, folk art and Asian – as well as some other “stuff.” Sales were largely within New England but he did say he made a sale to someone in Florida.
James Levinson, Inc., will be a familiar name to showgoers at many of the brick-and-mortar shows covered in these pages but this is the second time the New York City dealer was participating in the online Brimfield. “It was a very good show for me, largely because one person – who was a new client – bought a huge quantity of things.” He said he had posted a bigger selection of silver and jewelry across a broader range of price points and sold across the entire spectrum, with particular success selling costume jewelry. When asked if he would do another Brimfield online show, he said, “I will absolutely do it again.”
A vendor who posted only Christmas and seasonal collectibles was Judea Zander, who lives in Woodland Park, Colo. She sold nine pieces of midcentury Christmas directly through the show but said it has generated lots of follow-up business. She kept her price points low – her sales averaged between $30-$40 – and sold to both new and repeat customers. When we reached her on the phone, Zander noted about two dozen sales since the show, saying the Brimfield Holiday Market was “incredible, I just loved it.”
Upper East Vintage NYC’s Hayden Curtin features higher-end couture and vintage and recently opened a storefront in the garment district in New York City. Not one to rely heavily on e-commerce for her sales as most of her business is largely private styling and by word-of-mouth, she has long wanted to be a part of Brimfield. When the opportunity to do the virtual show presented itself, she jumped at the chance to join it, hoping it leads to a physical presence on the fields once they reopen. We caught up with her by phone the week following the show for her thoughts.
“I thought it was great. I had a good response and a lot of people who were very interested in wanting to do more. It was absolutely terrific in terms of exposure.” She noted that she gained between 50 and 75 followers during the show, as well as broadened her demographic. While the show did not result in direct sales, she said she would “absolutely do it again.”
Ververidis, Brandenburg and Irish each concluded their conversations with us by reaffirming why they debuted a new iteration of Brimfield. “Our most fervent goal in hosting these online shows is to bring a little bit of joy into our Brimfield community and to make sure we’re not forgotten during this difficult time,” Ververidis said. “We’ve received many messages from people telling us how much fun they had participating in the first Brimfield Holiday Market. For us that is the most gratifying part of all this.” Irish and Brandenburg said, “The Holiday Market was an opportunity for buyers and sellers to support small businesses in the antiques and vintage trades by buying unique gifts for their loved ones this holiday season.”
Though the Brimfield Antique Flea Market does not typically have another edition until May, Ververidis, Brandenburg and Irish are planning to co-host a winter show in mid-February that will follow the same format as this show. For information, www.brimfieldliveonline.com or www.instagram.com/thebrimfieldshow.
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