So you're headed to Round Top Antiques Fair for the first time with visions of gorgeous finds and super share-worthy Instagram posts. If you're a first-timer though, you could get lost in all the activity. The semi-annual antique fair is the biggest in Texas, so you'll have to have a game plan in place. So here are some excellent tips for Round Top novices.
10. Book lodging in advance
If you haven't already, book a room NOW. Round Top is a tiny town most of the time, with only 93 permanent residents. So don't expect to be able to show up and book a room at the Holiday Inn, because there's not one. Surrounding towns like Brenham offer more options, but the drive in the mornings and evenings can be brutal with traffic.
9. Try the off-hours
The show runs all week long, but the Monday through Thursday dates are the slower times. This means parking is easier, lines are shorter and the experience as a whole is just better. Most vendors are open by 10 AM, but some open as early as 7. Check with your favorite vendors to find out when their booths will be open so you can be the early bird that gets that antique worm. Conversely, some booths are open late in the evening for the night owls.
8. Bring something to haul your treasures
The Round Top Antiques Fair is more than just the 30,000 square foot Big Red Barn. The fair covers quite a lot of ground, so it's doubtful you're going to want to walk all over that place carrying your finds. Instead, bring a small rolling cart or a wagon. Your arm muscles will thank you. The show offers porters to help carry things to the car if needed. If you don't have a pickup truck, for larger items, some vendors will ship them to your home.
7. Don't forget the snacks
While there are restaurants that operate year-round in Round Top, as well as a few that open just for the show, they're likely to be pretty booked with a long wait time. To combat this, you could plan meals earlier or later than usual. Just in case though, make sure to pack some water and snacks to keep your energy up for the long hours of pickin'.
6. Dress for the weather
This is Texas, so even in the Fall it can get unbearably hot. At the best of times the weather is unpredictable, so dress in layers and bring plenty of sun protection. An umbrella is especially versatile because it can keep off the rain and the sun. Also keep in mind that you'll be walking quite a bit, so comfortable shoes are a must.
5. Be polite
We know, you're always polite! This is Texas, after all. However, when you add crowds to long lines, hot weather and spotty cell-service it's a recipe for grumpy attitudes. Remember to be kind not just to your fellow shoppers and drivers, but to the vendors and waiters as well. A little kindness goes a long way in a stressful environment.
4. Bring cash
It seems obvious, but in this modern world of credit and debit cards, fewer and fewer people remember to bring cash to events like this. It's the fastest way to pay, though, usually. Not only that, some vendors are more willing to make a bargain if you're paying with cash.
3. Ask first before you take a picture
The booths at Round Top are so beautiful that it's hard not to simply snap away, but be certain to ask the vendors first if photography is allowed. Most don't mind, but it never hurts to ask.
2. If you want it, negotiate
Sometimes the price marked on an item is higher than you want to pay, or higher than you have in your budget. Sometimes the price isn't marked at all. If you find something you really want, just talk to the seller about what they're willing to accept. Let them know what your budget is, sometimes they'll go a little lower to make the sale.
1. Timing is everything
There are different schools of thought on this. On one hand, the nature of picking is that many items are one of a kind, Therefore, when you find something you want, you should pounce. However, as the show nears its end, some sellers are ready to move their merchandise a little faster, so some may be more willing to bargain the closer you get to the official closing of the show. However, many are pros who simply pack up and go to the next event. Choose carefully. Happy picking!