Bargains at a Brocante/Antique Fair.
Do you love a market, car boot sale, brocante or antique fair? I just love a rummage through odds and sods and often come back with a bargain that adds a little stylee to my house or garden. On the other hand, they can be way too tempting and you can end up with a load of stuff you get home and then ask yourself why you bought all those antique green bottles! I used to be one of those but I’ve learned over the years, so will share my best top tips on how to shop wisely.
But first, brocante fairs. I have to admit that up to last year, I didn’t even know what brocante meant……but now I’m hooked. These are definitely my fave fairs……..
Brocante actually means flea market in French. But it will also work for second hand, vintage, shabby chic or repurposed. All music to my ears for living ethically and up cycling wherever possible. My lovely friend, blogger and talented interiors photographer Janice Issitt introduced me to my first brocante fair (the Decorative Home & Salvage Show in Loseley Park, Guildford) last year and that was it, I was hooked.
Much of the stuff is actually French and I just fell in love with all those pastel enamel coffee pots, let alone the furniture. If I only had room!
Because I went to this fair by train, I couldn’t carry much home (top tip if you want to save money!) but I did buy this beautiful blue coffee pot and some gorgeous French linen.
There were market stalls brimming with enamel goodies, crockery, linen, antique books &, of course, vintage clothes & furniture. I was like a kid in a candy store. If you’ve never been to a Brocante Fair, this is a must for your diary. It’s the perfect size and has lots and lots of great stalls.
This year, I went to The Big Brocante at Hop Farm, in Kent so decided to go there armed with the best antique shopping tips I’ve read recently, plus a few of my own rules. Sara Delaney, another blogger friend who is also a fantastic photographer, has written the definitive guide to snapping up a bargain, so have a read here.
For this year’s Big Brocante I met up with Siobhan Atkins, blogger friend and stylist (can’t you tell?) who was having a last shop before packing a container to take her house contents back to Australia. So she was on a mission to buy gorgeous old English tea sets, which go down so well in Sydney.
My mission was to see her for a last lunch and to stick to my shopping list…….that’s my most important top tip………
MY TOP TIPS
Before a fair, I actually walk around the house to see what I really need for either photography or decorative use. I am that strict because I hate clutter and waste!
If you’re with a friend, go round separately when you first arrive. I like to do the whole circuit without distraction and then go back to buy. Siobhan did the same. Then you can join up and go haggle together.
I always wear a bum bag, more secure and more dressed down than a smart handbag. I just pull out notes saying things like, “I’ve only got £15, will you take that?”. They generally do!
Always bargain for at least a fiver off, vendors expect it and rarely say no. And what’s the worst that can happen!
It goes without saying to dress comfortably and warmly for all that walking around. It always seems so windy at outdoor fairs and markets so go prepared.
And don’t go shopping hungry. Sometimes the stalls aren’t up to much so we made sure to have a spot of lunch at a nearby restaurant half way through.
So, how did I do? On my first circuit, I took a few photos and chatted to interesting dealers (that’s part of the fun for me), admired the old books and gorgeous antique toys but stayed resolutely on message with that shopping list…….
I really wanted to find a little step to help me reach my shoes on the top shelf of my wardrobe and found one……. look how happy I am with my find! It was only £15 and the shabby chic look works brilliantly in my “dressing room”. You can see more on my video, which I’ve popped down the bottom of this blog.
I also wanted a pastel enamel bowl for photography to pop plums or apples in and found a gorgeous one for £8. And then I bought something I didn’t need at all, but couldn’t resist: six gorgeous old green glass bowls that are just crying out for a pretty pudding!
The whole haul cost me under £40. I think that’s pretty good for a girls’ day out and a bit of shopping.
Here’s the video on how well that little stool fits into my spare room that I’ve turned into a sort of dressing room! Meanwhile, do let me know if you love a fair or market and what sort of goodies you’ve found there. Love hearing from you, as always.