On the Dawn Patrol: An Antique Shopper’s Paradise at The Elephant’s Trunk

The Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market

For those who have experienced The Elephant's Trunk, they will tell you that there is nothing more exhilarating than to start the day with the moon and stars. As the gates open, one can see the dragon's breath coming from those waiting in anticipation. The click of the walkie-talkie, the view of the vendors entering the field in the morning mist, and greetings galore abound -- 'Good morning', 'How are you?', 'Good to see you!', 'Thanks for coming', 'How much is that?', 'Will you take...?'. (ElephantsTrunk.com)

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It’s ALWAYS a fun day at The Elephant’s Trunk Country Flea Market
every Sunday (April thru November) in New Milford, CT.
On this trip, Drew Evans (our sales associate extraordinaire) came with me.

Drew and I got an early start.  We arrived at 6:30am for Early Buying (a $20 admission fee).  Of course, we wondered WHY since at 6:30am it was too dark to really see things even though we had a flashlight. General admission fee is $2 and it starts at 7am.   I like to get there early and leave early before it gets too crowded.  I don’t do good decision-making in crowded places.  (On this visit we were back on the road home by 10:45am.)

[click photos to enlarge]

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An eclectic collection of vintage furniture, store signs and there’s even an old saddle back there on the right!

The Elephant’s Trunk Country Flea Market began in 1976 and was set up in the front yard of the original property.  At that time having 15 vendors was a big day.  Today, The Elephant’s Trunk has fields chock full of dealers and collectors (over 500 usually) and covers a 55 acre parcel where you’ll find everything from vintage tools and trunks to ironware and yellow-ware bowls.  We saw African textiles, vintage clothing, industrial items, vegetables from farms, pumpkins…it’s an amazing experience.  If you are up for the HUNT then it’s THE place to go.  And don’t let the words “flea market” put you off…65% of the merchandise is antiques and collectibles and vendors who deal in counterfeit/knock-off merchandise are not permitted to sell here.

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If you’re up for the HUNT you can find some great buys!

We walked over 3 miles scouting and we came back with some great finds!  But seriously, you do have to get there early (7am is good) and keep walking and looking.  Prices can be high on good things.  Negotiate if you can but it does help to be a dealer…gives you more bargaining power!

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I tried to get these beautiful silhouettes. I thought they were too much but now I wish I’d bought. Should have taken my own advice “if you love it…buy it”.

There are new dealers every week and some regulars too. Once you find some good regular sources you trust…head to them first!

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Remember those Brownie Cameras??

My take on this Flea Market is that it’s a great market for “smalls” (textiles, pottery,vintage books and prints, baskets, etc) but I find that most of the furniture needed refinishing and repair…which is fine if you’re handy and have the time and skills to do the work yourself.

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Who’s that fine-looking guy at the seriously fine Good Luck Food Truck — FANTASTIC food if you’re planning on grabbing a bite while you’re there.

MY TWO CENTS

TIPS FOR ANTIQUING AT THE ELEPHANT'S TRUNK
  1. Go early leave early
  2. Bring cash and flashlight
  3. If you love it, negotiate best price and buy it!  Probably won’t be there if you wait and go back
  4. Even if you don’t find what you set out to find, keep an open mind if you see something else you love and the price is right!
  5. Buy smart.  There are tons of antique reproductions at the market so don’t overpay for something unless YOU ARE CERTAIN it is old.  (I only buy things that I feel are reasonably priced, and if for resale,  I think I can make a profit.  As a dealer, I can negotiate better deals, but respectfully make offers you feel comfortable with.)
  6. Insulting a dealer with a price too low can upset them and offer you little chance for a better price.  Get a feel for how anxious they are to sell
  7. Even though I prefer to go and leave early, later in the day can offer deals too but I find the good stuff is usually gone by then
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Maybe I should have bought that doll…just creepy enough for HALLOWEEN!!

REMEMBER…Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market closes the beginning of December and won’t reopen until April so plan your trip now!

HAPPY HUNTING!!

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