There’s nothing quite like the joy of discovering a unique, vintage piece. For some, it’s the unearthing of a beautiful treasure. For others, it’s finding a killer deal. Or maybe, it’s the thrill of the hunt, or just an awesome way to spend an afternoon with friends. For Looters, though…it’s a way of life.
While there’s no shortage of amazing markets and towns where you can get your antiquing on, the Holy Grail of them all is Round Top. The town, in between Austin and Houston and boasting only about 90 residents, is a year-round shopping haven, but really comes to life for a couple weeks in the Fall and Spring, when the Round Top Antique Fairs are in full swing. For almost 10 years, it has been treated by Loot as a home-away-from home. Dare we even say it’s our spirit animal?
Curious as to how we Round Top, and hunt in general? Hear it straight from our Co-Founders, Anna & Rhoda.
When/How did you first discover your love for finding vintage treasures?
AC: When I was growing up, my dad was just a true collector at heart. He collected designer, mission-style Stickley furniture, and would search for first-edition Pulitzer Prize and Caldecott-winning books, stamps, all kinds of things. My mom was a collector, too…always looking to add to her art, and her selection of Jadeite and Fiestaware.
We would watch Antiques Roadshow together, and stop alongside the road for any kind of treasures that caught our eye…it could be anything from a hammer glistening in the sun, to a dresser that just needed some love. “Street Treats,” we’d call them…anything that stopped us in our tracks. And, we’d go to all kinds of flea markets and antique stores, too. I’ve always just loved the hunt, and really came into it when I was in high school. My favorites are hunting for vintage clothes and furniture. It’s a Brimberry (my maiden name) trait, we always say! My brother – Rhoda’s husband! – has it, too. It was just ingrained in us.
RB: Very long ago, for me, too! When I was a kid, my mom would drag me on her yard sale adventures, and I was always into finding a little something for myself. I remember she’d find the most random things to bring home to add to her decor…and she was always looking for a bargain. By the time I was a teen, I started to gain a deep appreciation for thrift shopping. I would hang around a lot of the vintage shops and curate my wardrobe with my vintage finds. Once I started to live on my own, I edged more into interiors.
Tell us a little bit about your first trip to Round Top.
RB: Anna and I went together for our first time more than ten years ago, when we were just starting Loot. I remember we first started building our collection in Canton, and the sight of piles of mismatched vintage dining chairs still excites me like it did the first time we saw all of these treasures piled together under one tent. Miles and miles and fields filled as deep as the eye could see. We could not wrap our eyes and heads around all of the perfection at every turn.
AC: I had never even heard of it before, but we had a fellow vintage-rental business friend from LA that said we HAD to go, so we met her there and shared a hotel. It was all definitely overwhelming! When we got there, I remember thinking, “this is my version of heaven.” It took my breath away!
We made our first big furniture purchase for Loot – a couch. And, we were really into anything rusty, or wiry, at that time. We also got a little too much in the weeds of small things like linens, because it’s what we were collecting at the time. And then, we had to fit everything in Rhoda’s car! We should have brought a truck.
RB: I think those first years of hitting the fields were the most special because we were just still discovering all of the potential Round Top had, and it wasn’t nearly as evolved as it is today.
AC: Over the years, too, we’ve gotten much better at knowing how and when to haggle, and recognizing what things are “supposed to cost.” Just knowing value. We probably overpaid that first trip!
What’s your favorite Round Top find, ever? Personally, and for Loot?
AC: On our second trip, we found this gorgeous, large apothecary cabinet. It’s too big and heavy to actually rent out…we just bought it because we loved it, and could NOT pass it up. Another time, we bought this pair of Arne Norell leather sofas that we put in our Loot Finer Goods shop that are just amazing. (We still have one available!)
RB: It’s really hard to nail down a favorite for Loot, but if I had to pick one thing, I would have to say that large cabinet piece, too! We snagged it as quickly as we could as soon as the tent opened up that day. This particular vendor was known to sell out from all of her collection within minutes of opening. The thrill of the find is almost more exciting than the actual find! But, that piece still sits in our ATX showroom as a welcome to all of our guests.
AC: As for my own finds, my favorite is probably my dining room table…it’s a chippy white, made from a repurposed shed door that someone put on mid-century legs. I love it.
RB: I really love the workbench I found for my husband’s exam room. He gets so many compliments on it from his patients! The size was the key since those little rooms can’t hold much! It was the perfect addition to make his workspace a little unique.
As a Looter, do you head to round top with a particular type of item in mind you’re on the hunt for, or do you just go with whatever you see that inspires you?
AC: A little of both. We usually have a mission from the sales team of things we need to find — items we need more of, or things we don’t have, but are getting requests for from potential clients. When you’re super-focused on a specific list, though, you may miss the many other things around you, like other beautiful and unique pieces.
RB: Yes! But, as years go by and time becomes more scarce, we do go with that list, and also visit our favorite vendors. We also try to make time to delve into the magic of the fields, and maybe discover a new favorite vendor or dealer along the way.
AC: I think we’ve learned that it’s important to explore and have an open mind, while also keeping those priorities in the back of your mind, so you’re sure to recognize a good find, AND a needed item when you see one.
Do you have any favorite vintage items in our Loot rental inventory right now?
RB: I love our Garrison Sculptures. They are so unique and versatile. I had never seen anything like it…a giant piece of organic material (wood) that is set into a base for a sculpture. I love them! I’ve also been very fond of the Ulrik Sofa, as well. I remember when we found it. It was beaming out at us like, “Choose me! Take me home!”
AC: I just really love anything primitive, like old French butcher chopping block tables. And, anything that really shows character, and tells a story…like our Gavin Club Chairs.
Any must-sees/do’s/eats, etc. in Round Top?
AC: On our first trip, we discovered the Iced Tea Slush, and now could never visit without one! Also, the chicken salad at Texas Rose Cafe may be one of my favorite things EVER. Bader Ranch for dinner. Be sure to hit Market Hill, Bill Moore Antiques, Excess Fields One and Two (and, specifically there: Knock on Wood Antiques for finds imported from Morocco). Also, for a deal and great vendors, try La Bahia (tiny town north of Carmine).
RB: I always love trying a new lodging we haven’t been to before. We’ve loved Elisa’s Sunday Haus, Round Top Inn, and Vintage Round Top.
Any tips for Round Top Rookies?
AC & RB:
Go with an open mind, and good walking shoes — there’s so much to discover!
Take your time — we recommend a 2-3 day trip.
Bring a car big enough to carry your treasures! You can ship things, but it’s expensive.
Stay in neighboring towns like La Grange or Brenham — you can save a LOT of money by staying just a short drive outside of Round Top, but still close to all of the fields.
Park in the back of Bar W Field — it’s free, and you can walk all the way down through Warrenton (get all the deals!).
Don’t try to carry your purchases around all day. Tell your dealers you buy from that you’re coming back. Take a picture of the item and where it’s located…use the photos to map out a plan to drive back around and pick up your treasures in the most efficient way possible.