Brimfield 2010 – The Good, The Bad Attitude and The Truth About Word of Mouth Marketing


As usual, I had an amazing time at Brimfield this July. Yes, it was hot and it can make people a lotta miserable, but it did nothing to dampen my spirits, cuz I love me some Brimfield!

Every year I go armed with a list, and every year, I don’t stick to it.   This year was no different.   But I tracked down a french glass door for my studio, a vintage baby scale, a blue suitcase, vintage glasses, a parasol and a cow hide.   And still was under budget.    That’s a good prop day.

In a seemingly unrelated story, I want to tell you a little diddy about my deceased grandmother on my father’s side.   What does this have to do with Brimfield you ask?   Well, lots actually, but you’ll have to be patient if you want to make the connection.

My grandmother on my father’s side was very old.  When I say very old, I’m talking, old as dirt.   She actually lived to be 108 and hooray for her and me, because maybe that means I inherited her longevity.  Frankly, I hope that’s where it ends, because she was not a very nice woman.   And if I have to inherit anything at all, age would be all I would like, thankyouverymuch.

She appeared, to everyone else, to be very a very nice woman.  She was doted on by many, honored, because of her age, her birthday that fell on Valentine’s Day and because she lived to be the last immigrant to come through Ellis Island.   Big hoopla there.   However, to me, she was the mean old lady that put up both hands and pushed me away, at my ripe old age of four.  The infraction?   I put both hands on her lap to ask her a question, but that’s a story for another day.

Every year, the newspaper would do a story about my grandma and ask her, to what she attributed her old age and every year she would reply, “I never smoke or drank and I always lived a clean life.”  Secretly I believed it was God giving her additional years to repent for her bad behavior, but I digress.

One year, the one I remember with a small, but intentional smirk, is the year a young reporter knocked on the door of my grandma’s apartment to get her annual birthday story.   I guess my grandma was not in the mood to give out her story that day and she was downright rude and nasty to that poor reporter.   She left such a bad impression, that the reporter went right to her typewriter and wrote up an article about my grandma and her mean temperament!  How would you like to see that about yourself on page four?

Honestly, for me, it was justice served up fresh on a big plate with all the trimmings and parsley to chew, because I believe that eventually our bad behavior smacks us down in one way or another and I guess it was just her day for a heaping helping of “what comes around, goes around.”

And believe me, I’ve had my share of smack downs and there’s many more to come I’m sure.

OK Hallie, I have read the story and I have been patient, but now please tell me what this has to do with Brimfield?

Well, since you asked so nicely! WORD OF MOUTH IS EVERYTHING!!!!!

What!?  I don’t get it.  Well, think of it this way….it is approximately thirty years later and you have just heard the story of my mean grandma and her bad behavior.    Thirty years people! That is a long time to be remembered for something bad.  Think of every president that has ever done something stupid…ehem…Bill…cough…Clinton.  OK, we won’t go there, but where I will go is to a booth at Brimfield today.   And thankfully, I am not vindictive like the reporter.

You see, I always take pictures at Brimfield, it is eye candy.  Let’s face it, it is a hodge podge of beautiful treasures that goes on forever.  But today, I was standing at the edge one of my favorite booths taking a picture of the beautiful items and merchandising, when the owner of the booth came along and barked at me, “NO PICTURES!”  “Wha?” I said. “NO PICTURES!” I just stood there, completely taken by surprise.

I then said, “I’m sorry. Why do you not want pictures taken?”   Her very snippy reply was something along the lines of, “This is my booth and I don’t want you benefiting from it by taking pictures.”   She then emphatically barked at me that I am supposed to ask first.   Then went on to say that I could take pictures to put on my blog as long as I give her credit, while handing me her card.   Her rude behavior went on for a minute longer and I complied, but was truly disgusted at her tone and actions.  It’s not always what you say, but how you say it.

Now, I tried to go on to make pleasant conversation to clear the air, but I never took another picture.   By that point, the bad taste was already in my mouth and I don’t care how nice her booth was, or if she had the best merchandising on the earth.   After stopping there many years in a row, this will be my last.

Now, I could go on and talk about copyright and asking permission, which is important if you are photographing people, or works of art, or plenty of other things.  As far as antiques go, at a public event, I’m not so sure.  I do know that I could spend an entire day trying to find the booth owner to ask permission, so I doubt that line of action is anywhere in my near future.  So I will continue to photograph and take my chances, knowing that most booth owners are very kind and appreciate the word of mouth, which I am all too happy to give…. to those who are kind, friendly, or just have great stuff, such as Melissa at Nesting On Main, or Jen at Morning Glorious Vintage.

But wow.

Now imagine this. What if, just what if I was somebody important from Better Homes and Gardens, or some other magazine that was looking for a top Brimfield vendor for a feature story?   Well, I’ll tell you what, she would have been screwed, that’s what.   Because you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Word of mouth goes two ways. It can benefit and it can damage. I probably won’t tell someone if I have had a mediocre experience where I do business. But I can say for sure, if someone goes out of their way for me, I am going to talk about it and likewise, if I have had a bad experience, I am going to tell everyone I know to watch out. And what I want my customers to know… I value each and every one of you and I know that you have lots of choices for photographers.  And thank you for choosing me.  I value the relationships that I make with you and that is top priority for me. When you take the time to recommend me to your friends and family, that means a lot. It means that you think I have served you well and you are happy with our relationship and the service you have received. I take that very seriously.

Now to lady at the booth, I wasn’t the only one you threw out.  Some got way worse treatment than I did, so I’m not complaining,  just making a point.   Fortunately for you, I’m not like the reporter that told my grandmother’s ugly secret to the town.   I hope tomorrow you have a better day and if you don’t ever get there,  maybe it’s time to retire.  Customer service, may not be your bag.

And to grandma, even though I still tell this story and many others, I do it with humor and well, I forgave you long ago.   I hope Jesus did too.

Now it’s time to go find some aloe for my sunburn.  Toodeloo!

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  • Megan Goodell - July 19, 2010 - 9:07 AM

    I’m so sad that I wasn’t able to come with you! Fantastic Pictures!! I LOVE BRIMFIELD and I love your story! SO TRUE!ReplyCancel

  • Marsha - July 20, 2010 - 2:19 AM

    I wish Connecticut wasn’t so far away! Brimfield looks like a feast for the eyes (and a probably drain to my wallet).

    Ack. Sorry that lady was so rude to you. I don’t know why some people choose to work in a business that deals with customers all day when they don’t like people. It is especially difficult to deal with when you deal with customers in your own business. You know how you should be treated by anyone that cares halfway about a customer.ReplyCancel

    • admin - July 21, 2010 - 11:26 AM

      Oh it would drain your wallet Marsha, but you would have so much fun!

      As for the rude lady, I have been told that the ones who are the hardest to love are the ones that need it the most. Even though it’s hard, I try to keep that in mind. And it helps me to remember what I don’t want to be like 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Keri - July 21, 2010 - 12:18 PM

    Hi,

    Love your blog post! I wrote one a while back on the same thing and about that we should all work together in this business to try and promote one another. Some people dont really understand the whole blog concept still. There are alot of people such as you and I that simply love taking pictures for inspiration. People are paranoid you will steal their ideas. They need to just get over themselves! LOL. I set up In May next to Melissa. I am also in Concord in the same shop with Cary at Thoreauly Antiques. Your pics are great too! Maybe I will see you at the next Brimfield. Keep taking your pics! You can come into my booth anytime and snap away!

    Cheers, and happy hunting!ReplyCancel

    • admin - July 21, 2010 - 4:27 PM

      Hi Keri! I totally agree; we would go so much further by helping one another.

      I’m sorry I missed you this time around, but Melissa told me about you. I will be back in September and hope to see you if you’re there. I’ll pop in and say hi! And thanks for the invite to your booth. I popped over to your blog and your taste and merchandising is gorgeous!

      See you soon!ReplyCancel

  • martha - September 8, 2010 - 6:46 AM

    well, I was browsing pics of brimfield to see what is is I should bring for my first time selling there jj promotions have given me a booth at the last minute, stop by and take some pics tara’s treasures is the name of our booth its only open fri and sat.. cast iron love seat out front and pink dresser.. sure to please your camera.. mabey we will nmeet!!!! marthaReplyCancel

  • […] Thursday it was off to Brimfield to find some camera eye candy and what a beautiful day it was!  Perfect temps and blue skies with […]ReplyCancel

  • joyce canfijn-leamy - July 28, 2011 - 10:08 AM

    to my dear old friend…

    wow, you blew me away with the grandma stevenson story. i totally remember her being doted upon, and also remember many of us older kids thought she was pretty sour. you being so much younger than me, were not privy to the opinions the rest of shared in some hidden corner of the downstairs of the oak street church. 😉

    on another note, i loved your brimfield photos. i’ve always felt being there was a bit like being alice in wonderland — there’s so many surprises and treasures to be found, if you’re willing to search for them. haven’t been there in years, but would love to make it to the september show. if not then, well, there’s always 2012!

    remember, a good strong cup of coffee is always available just around the corner…ReplyCancel

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