InsideBrimfield.com: So tell us a little bit about the app.
Ryan Servant: Well, Brimfield Flea Finder is a smartphone app that was made specifically to make shopping and exploring Brimfield easier and even more fun than it was already. Some of the very basic features like having a map of the ATMs, parking, and bathrooms just take some of the little stress points out of what should be a very fun experience. Our main goal was to make an app that could help someone who had never been to Brimfield before but also had some features that would appeal to seasoned shoppers and dealers.
IB: So what made you come up with the idea for the app?
RS: My wife and I grew up in the area and always would go to the flea market. We even worked for some of the fields parking cars and scooping ice cream as teenagers. When we moved away to NYC we would still come back to Brimfield for the shows and bring friends with us. Then when we moved home we attended even more. Our home is filled with special things we have found here. My inlaws are dealers at Quaker Acres and we would spend a lot of time at their booth and we realized that there was a need to try and bring some up to date information and technology to the show. With all of the new TV shows like Flea Market Flip, Market Warriors, American Pickers, etc… there is a younger generation interested in vintage and antiques and it just seemed obvious that there should be a tool like this. Also, after the 50th person asked me where the bathroom was a light bulb kind of went off. So the app itself is about 2 years in the making in terms of research and development.
IB: Why do you think this hasn’t been done before?
RS: I think the main reason is that there is not one owner of the entire show. If there was a single management group, maybe it would have been done a few years ago. The fact that there are over 20 fields that operate independently makes it difficult to do something like this. Also, the number of smartphone users at the show has increased significantly even over the past 2 years. A small number of shoppers have been doing research while shopping the show for years. Now that the majority of the shoppers have smartphones, it makes sense to give them more power to have a successful trip to Brimfield.
IB: What have people done for information in the past, and why is your app better?
RS: For years now there have been a few websites that have show info and a few have even done online dealer directories so people could do research before coming to the show. They include some dealer info, maps, etc. But some of the websites have outdated information and aren’t very user friendly, especially from a smartphone. A dealer can list what they sell and where they are located, but if they change to a different field mid-week, they have to create a second listing. That means, as a user of the site, I might see a dealers name multiple times and not sure which one is accurate. With our app, a dealer can update their info and current locations during the show. In fact, even if they find the dealer in the online directories, they would then have to download the map, then open their map application on their smartphone, and try to line everything up. Since users aren’t even sure how old the information is they aren’t motivated to spend that time. But with the app, it’s all right in the palm of their hand, can be done in seconds and they can trust that the information is current because dealers have to sign up for each individual show.
IB: What are some features that you plan on adding in the future?
RS: We have had some interest in getting information about food in the app. We are working on a few ways that information will be displayed and we are hoping to have something ready for the July or September 2014 shows.
IB: If people have ideas for the app, how can they send them to you?
RS: We love feedback and ideas! If they send info directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will be sure to look into the ideas that come in.
IB: How much does the app cost?
RS: The app itself is $0.99 during the show but is free for an introductory period leading up the show. Dealers pay a small fee to be listed in the app. They can go to www.brimfieldfleafinder.com to find out more info.
IB: Do you attend the show?
RS: Of course we do! This first show we will be set up directly on Rt 20 thanks to our friends at New England Motel. We will be setting up a free smartphone charging station so that people can come to juice up their phones and chat with us. Myself and a few other will also be walking the fields during setup and the first few days of the show to sign up as many dealers as possible so users have a great experience with it.
IB: Last question, what is your favorite feature in the app?
RS: For me, it is our “Hot Items”. My wife and I will be walking the show, and hand picking some fun unique items that we think people would love but might miss out on if they aren’t able to walk the whole show. That picture will show up in the app as a list of pictures with some basic information. If you click on the picture, our GPS will take you directly to the item! So if you are fast enough, you can go and see the item yourself before someone else buys it. Think of it as a scavenger hunt for grown ups! I love this feature for 2 reasons. The first is because you can be sitting in the shade drinking a lemonade and eating some grub from BT’s Smokehouse and still be shopping virtually. The second reason is that so many people come to the show not knowing what they want to buy, but come for inspiration and adventure. This list of photos might be just a great set of photos to give people ideas on what they can find at the show.