Not too far from where I live is a Sunday morning secret that everyone, yet no one, seems to know about. Most of my friends have never heard of it (even the ones who live nearby) yet it is always crowded. I forget how I first heard about it but I have been going on and off for over 20 years. The secret is that every Sunday there is a mini version of Brimfield in Rowley Mass. For years I just called it Rowley but I have since learned that most people call it Todd Farm; which is the name of the Farm the Flea market is located on.
Todd Farm is owned equally by two brothers who are is some sort of huge feud and haven’t spoken to one another in over 30 years. No one I have asked actually knows what the feud is about but many of the old time Dealers side with either one brother or the other one. This past year the feud got so ugly that the two brothers actually built a fence right down the middle of the land. Now you have to walk almost all the way out to the street to go around the fence to get to the other half of the tables. It seems completely crazy but everyone seems to have adapted to the inconvenience just fine.
After years of going as a buyer, I talked my good friend Elise into coming with me to sell. We have set up and sold now 4 or 5 times; making some money but even better, having an absolute blast. We have meet some of the regulars, learned a ton about Flea Market culture and seen more weird things and people than I can count. Let me give you a quick run down of how it all unfolds.
If you are selling, you need to get there no later than 4am or all the vendor spots will be gone. It is a free for all so the earlier you get there the better spot you get. The lot opens at midnight and most of the Dealers who make their living selling, get there shortly after that.
If you are a serious Flea Marketer, buyer or collector, 5am is the absolute latest you want to arrive or much of the “good stuff” will be gone. The true die-hards (dealers and true collectors) get there as early as 3am then run from table to table with flashlights, buying before the sun comes up.
The Designers (I can spot them from 50 feet away) arrive around 6am with their Starbucks in hand and rolling carts in tow. They are always on a mission, never stroll or poke around, and usually have an assistant following behind.
The last to arrive are the general public. They come around 8am-9am with their kids and dogs and are usually just looking for a fun morning activity. They are the ones who stroll slowly and poke around.
Like all good Flea Markets there is a mix of high end stuff, low end stuff, crazy stuff and just plain junk. Here are a few of my favorite things I saw on my last visit.
The woman that was selling these Head Vases had hundreds of them. Her father-in-law was a Head Vase collector and had recently passed away. I had never seen or heard of Head Vases but she said they were popular in the 40’s-60’s.
Quilts are becoming very hot again even in modern interiors and this one was a beauty.
I love antique bottles and this seller had thousands more at home so he told me. He dug most of them up himself and has traveled all over the country on bottle digs. He has been a bottle collector since he was 6 years old.
Obviously you couldn’t actually sit in this chair but the amount of work and time that went into making this is amazing.
I wanted to buy all these spindles but heard my dear husband’s disapproving voice in my head if I brought home one more “project thing” to go into the garage, so I resisted.
Don’t you just love these wooden figures and hands? Wouldn’t they look great painted black standing on a mantle against a white wall?
Flea Markets are such a great place to find inexpensive items that speak to us and add character to our home. When we collect what we love our home becomes all that more rich and meaningful. Whether it is vintage furniture, glass bottles, Head Vases, or wooden figures, collected items speak of who we are and gives our home a soul.
This is what I have been collecting this Summer at Todd Farm.
Why did I collect this? I majored in science in college, worked in a lab for two years after college and have always had a “thing” for beakers, test tubes and lab glass. The bottles and beakers ranged in price form .50 cents to $5.00 for the large flask. A very small investment for an interesting vignette that brings me joy every time I look at it.
What do you like to collect? And on another note…anyone free at 5am on Sunday?
If you would like some help styling or building a collection for your home, give me a call.