The Smell of Commerce in the Morning

Brimfield

LOCATION: Exit 8 off the Mass. Pike; open 7/8–7/13 and 9/2–9/7; $5 entry for some areas, free for most; brimfieldshow.com.
STRATEGY: Arrive by 7 a.m. The parking lots are filled by 8, but locals open their driveways for a flat fee. Prospect Hill Road is the best alternative for free parking.
SCENE: Equal parts carnival, circus, and Antiques Roadshow, Brimfield is the granddaddy of New England flea markets, hosting up to 5,000 vendors across 21 fields.
SWEET BOOTHS: New England Motel Antique Market for Danish modern wares; Heart-o-the-Mart for obscure bargains like retro gas station glassware.
CROWD: Includes creative teams from Martha Stewart (recognizable by their swinging ponytails and walkie-talkies) and Ralph Lauren.

[sidebar]Lancaster

LOCATION: On Route 70; open Sundays year round; $2 entry (children admitted free); lancasterfleamarket.com.
STRATEGY: Persistence is more important than early arrival (start time is 8 a.m.). Sift for a couple of hours, and you’re sure to hit the jackpot. For a quick refueling, stop in at the Lady Lancaster Diner concession stand.
SCENE: Requiring Brimfield stamina and Costco strategizing, this indoor marketplace houses 60,000 square feet of both junk and gems, like Fortuny dresses and Chippendale antiques.
SWEET BOOTHS:
Maria Sobol’s for vintage clothes, buttons, and jewelry.
CROWD:
As motley as the merch. Many of the shoppers and vendors are refugees from the now-defunct Salem and Reading markets.

Todd Farm

LOCATION: On Route 1A in Rowley; open Sundays, April through November; free entry; toddfarm.com.
STRATEGY: Go early or don’t go at all. Officially open from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., this one’s consistently ravaged by 11 a.m. The best approach is to arrive around 4 a.m. with the vendors, who sell as they unload their vans.
SCENE: Over 200 top-notch vendors offer antiques and home goods. Expect Colonial-style knickknacks, midcentury furniture, clothing, and ephemera.
SWEET BOOTHS:
Ferguson & D’Arruda for garden accessories and architectural scraps; Erich Heinze’s for linens, china, and antique fishing gear.
CROWD: Brimfield regulars, families, Wallace Nutting fans.

Wellfleet

LOCATION: At the Wellfleet Drive-In; open weekends through fall, plus Wednesdays and Thursdays in summer; wellfleetdrivein.com.
STRATEGY: Arrive no later than 7:30 a.m. Wear a wide brim and pack extra sunscreen—all the pavement underfoot makes hot feel boiling. And while the per-carload entry fee is a few bucks, those on foot or bicycle get in gratis.
SCENE: The Cape’s largest market is packed with 300 vendors hawking the good, the bad, and the ugly. Quirky finds include everything from movie memorabilia to Romanian wooden toys.
SWEET BOOTHS: Jack Lowney’s for a mind-boggling 40,000-deep stash of old postcards; KEM Designs for handcrafted beach stone jewelry.
CROWD: Vacationing literary types, gay couples, pets, kids in bathing suits, Manhattanites mourning the loss of the 26th Street Flea Market.

 

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