Recently, the Flea Style team spent a couple of days in Round Top, Texas, for a work retreat. We stayed at The Vintage Round Top, a lovely vacation rental owned by last summer Summit panelists Smoot and Paige Hull. There was work, of course. And wine — lots of wine. There was pie. And there was shopping! (Watch our video to get a good feel of our good time.)
Our trip preceded the start of the world-famous Antique Weekend by a just week, so we could see vendors setting up their tents in fields on both sides of the road. It was very clear that this is no small event. In fact, Paige says that with more than 3,000 vendors spread over 25 miles, it can be downright overwhelming for people without a solid plan of attack. Plus, even though the name states that it's just a weekend, the show spans three weeks.
So we asked her for a few tips to share with those who are headed that way but aren't quite sure what to expect.
What are the top three things people need to know before going to the shows?
1. If you don't already have lodging for this year, you're out of luck. If you plan to spend one or more nights in or near Round Top for the shows, you need to get a room at least a year in advance. Roundtop.org is a good place to start your lodging search.
2. Decide in advance if you would rather look at curated booths of antiques or hunt through the fields for the perfect piece for your next DIY project. This decision will guide you to the right places.
3. The fair is spread over three weeks every spring and fall. Each show is operated independently, and they all have different days and hours they are open. See a complete list of shows at antiqueweekend.com, roundtop.com and roundtop.org.
How long does it take, realistically, to see everything?
It’s probably impossible to see all of it unless you plan on staying the whole three weeks. It's best for first-timers to visit as many show sites as is practical to get a feel for the different types and styles of shows. Each show has a distinct personality, and you should be able to tell pretty quickly if you connect with the offerings and overall vibe.
Are there perennial musts?
Absolutely! One of my favorites is Marburger Farm. It’s open only the last five days of the fair and is one of the more curated and beautiful shows. But that comes with a price: Do not expect to find many bargains there! I also love Texas Rose, The Compound, Zapp Hall, La Bahia, EXCESS, and Blue Hills. Most shows are free to enter, but Marburger and a few others charge admission.
What are your secrets to finding the best treasures? The best deals?
Good question! The best deals are pieces you absolutely love regardless of the price — at least that’s what I tell my husband! There’s not really a show that is known for consistently amazing deals, but some are known to be more expensive as a general rule. Expect to pay more for items at curated shows as opposed to those you pick up under a tent in the middle of a dusty cow pasture. Many of my best finds have been found digging in boxes under the hot Texas sun in Warrenton. I’ve also found some amazing pieces and deals in outlying towns like Burton.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate a little as well — just remember that being a vendor is a difficult gig. Over the last several years, there have been more and more reproductions sold at the shows. I avoid places where I see a bunch of boxes stamped with “Made in China” or "Made in India." I’m personally looking for authentic vintage and antique pieces that have a story and some soul.
Any anecdotes you can share about your experiences? Things you've been surprised to find or lessons you've learned that can benefit others?
Our Round Top adventure started by a vision I had staring at a chandelier hanging in a cow pasture! There’s this thing called “Round Top Magic,” which seems to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. The town is full of the most creative, supportive and wonderful people you could ever image. There’s a real sense of community during and after the shows.
My biggest lesson learned is if you see something you love, buy it — as in buy it right now! We have hesitated a few times and someone bought the piece while we were discussing if we should. Antiques shopping can be a competitive sport, so be ready to pull the trigger quickly.