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Updated June 2015 to reflect new information 
Alameda Point Antique Fair

While this is no secret to anyone living in the Bay Area, the Alameda Point Antique Faire should be on the must-do list of anyone visiting the Bay Area who has an interest in vintage and antique goods.  Not only is it great for shopping, but this is also a market with a view:  the market takes place on an air strip at the former Alameda Naval Air Station and has a view of San Francisco, the Bay, and the giant cranes of the Port of Oakland as a backdrop.

Taking place on the first Sunday of every month, the Alameda Point Antique Faire has about 800 dealers.  The promoters work hard to ensure that items sold are 20 years old and older.  Sure, a few dealers have stuff that shouldn’t make the cut but, unlike many markets these days, you won’t find row after row of tube socks, fake “antiques” imported from China, or new items that have been left in the rain to appear old; if you’re a regular at flea markets you’ll know what I mean.

There is wide range of merchandise sold, from large items like furniture and architectural antiques, to small items like jewelry, antique hardware, glassware, clothing, and art.  There are a few dealers selling higher-end items but the majority have moderate prices so there are deals to be found.   Most antique dealers in the Bay Area, myself included, are regular shoppers (or sellers, or both) at “The Point” (as we refer to it).  As is the case at most markets, the best deals are usually found early although if you’re not a morning person it is still worth going later; I’ve frequently found great things later in the morning because many of the dealers are still setting up when the doors open at 6:00 am.
(note:  the days on which some of the auctions are held have changed since my original post and have been updated below)

The Annex Auction

The promoter of the Alameda Point Antique Faire also run two auctions nearby:  a high-end auction that takes place the following Saturday, but is open for preview the weekend of the market; and a lower end auction (known as the Annex Auction) that is also open for previews the weekend of the market and is held later in the week (Tues, Wed., and sometimes Thurs.).   You can preview both auctions after you’ve done your shopping at the Faire and make it an even more productive day of antiquing.

The main auction house

If you’ve never been to an auction and find them intimidating click here for a guide  that I’ve written.

Pork belly buns from The Chairman

What to Eat
If, like many travelers to the Bay Area, you are a food-lover, the monthly Alameda Point Antique Faire has one of the best gatherings of food trucks around.  Come prepared to eat, and to eat well.   Some of my favorites include superb pork belly buns with pickled daikon at The Chairman; great falafel and salads at Liba; frozen custard, ice pops, and great baked goods from several vendors; artisan sausages; and, of course, good coffee.

The Details:
When:  first Sunday of every month.  Check website for roll-over rain days.
Where:  Alameda Point Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA (across the Bay from San Francisco).  While it is possible to get there by public transit it is not easy and recommended to go by car.

Time and cost:
Extra Early Buy:  6:00 am – 7:30 am, $15
Early Buy:  7:30 am – 9:00 am, $10
General Admission:  9:00 am – 3:00 pm, $5
Free admission for children under 15 with parent.

What to wear:  Layers, sunscreen, and comfortable shoes.  The show is vast, as is the parking lot, so be prepared for a lot of walking.  There is a shuttle that circulates through the parking lot if you are parked at the far end of it.
Bay Area weather changes throughout the day so wear layers; it may be cool and foggy when you arrive, sunny and warm by 11:00 am, and the wind whipping up around 2:00 pm.

A happy customer bringing her haul back to her car