The stuff your great-great grandparents made was made to last — and this weekend is your chance to bring some of it back into the family.
The Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market Extravaganza runs Friday through Sunday at the Clark County Fairgrounds. Show owner Jon Jenkins said the biannual event has a reputation as one of the best “buying shows,” in the country, with affordable prices ranging from a quarter to $20,000 or more.
About 2,000 vendors sell everything from comic books and old coffee cans to museum-quality pieces of traditional Midwestern Americana.
The show has been around for more than 40 years, Jenkins said. That would make it vintage but not quite antique, according to the textbook definition that draws the line at about 100 years old.
“The great thing about the show is you can come and find something unique, probably handmade, that has no negative environmental impact, that may retain part of its value, and you’ll have an attachment to it,” Jenkins said. “You’ll remember where you first saw it. You’ll remember who you were with that day. You might remember who you bought it from. It has built-in memories.”
If you’ve ever fantasized about being an antique dealer for a living, today’s your chance to see what that’s really like. Vendors will line up, waiting to be allowed into the fairgrounds, and many open their trucks to wheel and deal with one another while they wait. Admission is $40 per person for the early “line buying” event, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, and includes readmission to the rest of the show all weekend.
Jenkins warns the line buying event is not for everybody. Only about 10 percent of the show items will even be visible, and the pace is frenetic. “It’s tremendously fascinating, but it’s not for the faint of heart,” he said.
The whole show opens Friday from 8 a.m. to noon for those willing to trade some extra sleep for the first shot at the best deals. Early-bird admission is $12 per person, and includes readmission during regular hours for the rest of the show weekend. Regular admission on Friday, Saturday and Sunday is $7 per person.
How to go
What: Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market Extravaganza
Where: Clark County Fairgrounds, 4401 South Charleston Pike in Springfield
When: Friday through Sunday, May 17-19.
Hours and admission prices:
- Line-buying event: Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., $40 per person, including readmission to the rest of the show all weekend.
- Early bird hours: Friday from 8 a.m. to noon, $12 per person, including readmission.
- General admission: Friday from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., $7 per person.
Extras: Food and beverages, including wine and beer are sold on site.
Do’s and Don’ts for finding the best deals
With a store called Vintage Scout, Debbie Basnett must know some tricks about scouting for the best deals in vintage and antique items. We caught up with the co-owner and lead designer of the Centerville home décor boutique to learn her tips about how to find the best buys at the Springfield Antiques Show and Flea Market Extravaganza.
- DO buy what you love.
- DO form an idea in your mind of how much you are willing to pay for something, before you ask the price.
- DO act decisively. “If you want something, don’t pass it up,” Basnett said. “Don’t say you’ll think about it and come back. Nine times out of 10, it will be gone.”
- DO imagine how the piece you are thinking about would look in a high-end setting. If you came across the same doo-dad in a fancy store or a friend’s house, would it still seem special to you? If so, it’s a definite buy!
- DO look for diamonds in the rough. “Go to the vendors that just have their stuff thrown all over,” because they may have better deals, Basnett said. “Then go back to the ones that have their booths staged all cute.”
- DO come prepared. When she’s on the hunt, Basnett brings comfortable shoes, layers of clothing, packing blankets, a measuring tape, pen and paper, silver wipes to clean off the things she’s curious about, sunglasses and sunscreen. Cash is best for negotiating good deals, but many vendors at the Springfield Extravaganza accept checks or credit cards. There are ATMs on site.
- DON’T always insist on mint condition, but do walk away from pieces that are broken.
- DON’T forget to pick up the pieces you purchase. Basnett still regrets the vintage French laundry tub she bought, and accidentally left, at a show in Atlanta.
- DON’T lose focus. If you are shopping for something specific, make sure you search for that first. “Don’t be distracted by the other shiny objects,” Basnett said. “If you know you need a nightstand, don’t get distracted and lolly-gag your way through. All the good nightstands will be gone.”