I love a good antique fair. You can pick up some amazing things and depending on your taste and style, you can get a bargain! However, there are a few caveats to that. There is a reason by on Bargain Hunters they don’t always make a profit, even with the help of experts. You need to know what you’re buying (kind of) and have a clear idea of what you intend to spend. Also, you might have different budgets depending on whether its for keeps or to sell on.
Today we visited the International Antiques and Collectors Fair in Ardingly, not far from London. The fair runs every month and there are loads of varied stalls and pitches to view. The fair is split over two days and most of it is outside, so be aware that the weather will play an important part in your planning!
Here are a few tips for first time visitors. Don’t be put off by the word ‘antiques’, that doesn’t mean that everything is expensive or ‘expert’ in any way. There will be lots of other first-timers there too and the stall holders really don’t care about your level of knowledge or experiences.
Pick your day
Most fairs run over two days. If they do they are often more expensive day one (Ardingly was £20 on Tuesday but just £5 on Wednesday) and often if you buy a day one ticket you can go on day too as well for no extra cost.
So which is best, day one or day two? That’s up to you! Probably which is more convenient. If you’re looking for quality and variety then probably day one. But if you’re looking for a bargain and happy to go for the fortunate finds, the day two might be for you… or if you can go to both!
Again, depending on the fair location, the weather will have an effect on the day. Also, pick your location as you might need to get there early to get a bargain! Which leads me nicely onto….
Get there early
Most fairs don’t run all day and they start early. The Ardingly fair starts at 9am (although stall holders today were saying that it in fact opened much earlier) and they start to pack up from about 1pm, especially on day two. So if you turn up at midday you won’t have much time to look around a large sprawling fair. Plus there’s collecting your stuff…
Get a car permit
We found out the hard way that you need a car permit to drive onto the site to pick up your larger purchases. If you try to get one too late in the day you might be unlucky, so consider this before buying large items the other end of the site! My arms are longer for this experience!
Talk to the stall holders
We found them to be really friendly and helpful. If you go in and ask for a price straight away, chances are you’ll get their first price offer only. If you chat to them, we found they are much more likely to be accommodating to offers etc, no matter how cheeky! Have a haggle! Its fun and they expect it, so don’t be all British about it.
Don’t be afraid to walk away
Too much money? Need to think? Then walk away… if you gut calls you back in fear of someone else snapping it up, then buy it. If you find you can walk away then you’re probably right to. You can also pop back and try again later in the day. Stall holders seem much more willing to haggle with you later in the day, especially on day two…
There’s no point in regrets
If you do walk away try not to regret it. I walked away from some vintage french cinema seats which were stunning. My head told me that in reality I didn’t have anywhere to put them, but my heart has been sobbing ever since!
Equally, if you do buy something you might as well commit, as you’ll never find somewhere to return it and they probably won’t take it! Buy as seen and commit. Sometimes there will be mistakes. If you bought at the right price, hopefully you’d be able to sell it on for a profit anyway…
Take a van
We had a van with us, but we noticed the advertised delivery costs were quite high. Also, it always feels a little uncomfortable paying some money to someone who is going to pack up and disappear completely, without taking the item away with me… maybe its just me…
Good luck! And enjoy… I loved every minute.
Check out the IACF website here for more info, dates, locations etc: https://www.iacf.co.uk/