It's that time again! Round Top comes alive in March and October, and they're just about to open for the two week run, so I thought I'd resurrect my last post about prepping for a successful trip to Round Top just before everyone heads in that direction!
If you're going for the first time, scroll through for my best tips to get you through multiple days scouring vendors at Round Top.
Tips and Tricks for Your Next Round Top Trip
Booking hotels in the Round Top area must be done well in advance although its gotten easier recently. VRBO and Airbnb can be booked even a month out, so definitely explore those options if you don't get a hotel in time. This website is also a great way to find unique places to stay in and around Round Top.
If you're local and driving in for Round Top, I like to drive to the end of the main RT road of stops, and work my way back home to Houston during my time there, so I'm not fighting against traffic every step of the way. If you're flying in, Austin and Houston are about equidistant from Round Top but because of the location of our two main airports here in Houston, it is technically a little less of a drive to fly into Austin. For me personally its about 90 minutes door to door to RT to give you a sense of timing. Depending on where you're flying in from, you may get better flight times or flight options in one airport over the other. Do your research!
Having cash always helps here. It may be hard to find an ATM machine anywhere remotely close, but they are getting better about credit card charging. You can bring checks as well, but have options for yourself.
Bring sunscreen and use it generously! It's all open fields with various vendors set up, so you're in the sun more than you think. Even in the late winter, you can catch a lot of sun.
Make sure you bring a car phone charger, and at least one, possibly two, separate battery packs! Cell service has gotten better, but your battery still drains pretty quickly. One little tip is to turn your phone on airplane mode while browsing in the fields then check messages in spurts when you can be charging in the car during a break.
Depending on the time of year, a jacket and rain boots are a must to bring along. Here's the deal about the weather in Texas, specifically around these parts, in case you didn't know. It's generally hot, hotter, or hotter than hell (I'm only halfway joking) but in the early spring you really never know how each day will be. Again, open fields, not a lot of tree cover...think hot, sunny, dusty. Oh and I should mention the rando surprise rain. So pack a small umbrella if you can. I've been caught in some major rainstorms in RT, especially in the spring, which brings me to shoes.
If you can, I would highly advise bringing comfortable shoes that you don't mind getting dirty. I even keep a pair of rain boots in the car just in case. Round Top is virtually in the middle of farm and ranch country. Sure there are ladies who come in their pretty little heels and dressed up all fancy but I hear them swearing at themselves by the end of the day, vowing to wear shorts/jeans and sneakers the next time. Personally I'm all about comfort when it comes to what to wear but bottom line: You do you.
People watching is great - you'll definitely see celebrities. My favorite so far has been Anderson Cooper - those baby blues are just as striking in person, let me tell ya!
If you're ever presented with a clean bathroom, take it. Trust me. Buc-cees on 290 on the way to RT from Houston is a great place to get gas and use the restroom, not to mention get your fill of snacks and drinks. In RT itself, best bathrooms award goes to Blue Hills.
Check the schedule for Round Top online. If you show up early in the week, just know not all vendors will be set up, and not all vendors are as nice as they could be.
If you go later in the week towards the show's end, vendors are more open to making deals, mostly because they don't want to pack up their goods and get it back home! You might miss out on the best things this way, though, so be aware!
One thing that's really turned my gears lately is the expectation that so many people come into Round Top having: I'm here to get some deals.
I really encourage all of you, if you attend Round Top, to consider that most of these vendors drive from all over the country (paying those same ridiculous gas prices as you do, but with literally tons in tow) and sometimes have to sleep in their vans/trailers for 2 to 3 weeks because lodging in the area spikes so high during the show when designers and treasure hunters descend upon the area. Most (but not all) are often just trying to cover costs and make enough to stay in business until the next show, so please think twice before you haggle or try to bump the price down.
If you go with friends, have a rundown in the morning of what you're all looking for. If you're looking on one side of an aisle, the thing you want may be right across the way, and you would totally miss it! Multiple eyes are always helpful in these situations.
You never know what you're going to find. I've seen an airplane for sale before - so come in with an open mind...and some knowledge that you might find something that will take a lot of logistics/shipping budget to get back home! Ask the show vendor and they'll more than likely be able to hook you up with at least one company that can ship anywhere. Remember, the bashful go hungry, so ask away.
If you have a plan for specific items you want for yourself or a client, bring measurements of the space and photos. The shop owner is usually a designer themselves and can talk you through an item and whether it can fit.
There's more and more food available on premises, like the food trucks above at The Halles. If you have your car, or a rental car, I do suggest bringing a cooler with cold water and snacks or quick bites so you can eat while charging your phone, for example.
Bring your own tape measure! You don't have to, but it sure helps in busier shops when all of theirs are being used.
Always turn pieces over that are claiming to be antique. I have unfortunately seen stencil marks on supposedly 'antique' pieces, so just be aware as you shop. If you love something, so be it, but the 'antique' moniker can bump the price up unnecessarily, and it's worth asking the owner for the provenance of the piece.
Blue Hills, The Halles, and M. Naeve are my go-to stops for rugs. I have to see what they have every year! At the Halles make sure you go find Sabine Maes Art...she's is just as delightful and gorgeous in person as her art and tell her I sent you.
If you ever find yourself in Round Top, keep an eye open for me and be sure and say hello! Oh! and in case you missed this post about RT from last year, click on over to this post.