Sandra Michaan’s Tips for Shopping the Alameda Point Antiques Faire

The organizer of Northern California’s largest outdoor antique extravaganza has bargain advice for shoppers and the fashion-focused.


Sandra Michaan

Photo by Megan Small

Alameda hosts two of the largest and most celebrated antique and fashion fairs in the country, thanks to Sandra Michaan and company. The Alameda Point Antiques Faire is the massive high-quality outdoor antique fair that descends en masse on the point on the first Sunday of every month. Twice a year, Michaan schedules the very popular Vintage Fashion Faire.

What do you think makes the Alameda Point Antiques Faire so popular?

We are the largest antique show in Northern California, and our fair is like a well-run machine. We have got it down pat. Our staff starts getting ready at 2:30 a.m. and is completely set up by 6 a.m. We try our best to make the whole experience as organized and flawless as possible for our customers. Besides having the best dealers in the country (with the best antique inventory at fair prices), we have the greatest views and the most amenities of any antique fair anywhere. For example, no other outdoor antique expositions offer shopping and loading carts. We have ATM machines, plenty of porta potties, shuttle services, and fencing around the entire perimeter. And our food trucks, well, they are a show in themselves and have become quite the mecca for food lovers. I think our unique situation is what draws dealers and customers from all over the country. I also have to say that we offer a great setting for people watching.

Do you have any insider tips for shopping the fair?

First of all, the early bird really does get the worm. Besides having first dibs, coming early (before 9 a.m.) offers a peaceful experience where you can concentrate on what you’re looking for. I also suggest starting your shopping from the back of the market rather than the front. Prices are usually cheaper in the back, and the inventory can be more unusual. It’s a good idea to pick up the free program at the entrance, which offers a directory of booths, food trucks, and lots of other valuable information. Another tip that many people don’t know about is our Customer Care Lounge in a trailer at the entrance. If you get really tired or overheated, we have a place for you to sit and cool off and rejuvenate. This refuge is great for all ages, especially for older people.

Describe the Vintage Fashion Faire.

Twice a year, in May and October, I hold a huge vintage fashion exposition. I started this sale in 2004 on the former Navy base but shut it down because it was a very busy time in my life. We transferred the show to the O Club but are now in the Michaan Annex, which has turned out to be the perfect venue. What’s wonderful is the great variety and quality of the clothes and accessories sold at the fair. You can truly find almost anything at our show. You’ll see designer pieces, movie industry costumes, men’s and women’s clothing, and accessories of all types with dressing rooms available for both men and women. The show is always evolving, but we remain committed to filling the event with very professional dealers who exclusively sell high-quality vintage clothing and vanity items. Our next Vintage Fashion Faire is Oct. 16 and 17.

It sounds like a really good time.

It’s a blast. Every show has a theme and everyone is invited to dress accordingly, but it isn’t necessary. Our themes have included Mad Men, Steam Punk, Fabulously ‘50s Tiki, Film Noir, and Fantastic Victorian. Our theme for the October fair is ’50s Sci-Fi. We hold a costume contest with the prize being a $100 voucher to shop at the show. Beer, wine, a food truck, a live band ($10 on Friday night with a re-admit to shop on Saturday) are just of few extras that add to the success of our show. We charge a $5 entrance fee all day on Saturday and children under 16 are free. There will be over 50 booths at the show this fall. I promise, it never disappoints.

What else do you have up your sleeve?

I’d like to write a book on all things vintage, which would include years of my writing in my monthly articles in my show magazine, The Point. It would be nice to branch out and write more vintage style articles for other publications, so that’s a goal. I’m also a performance artist and poet, and I write screenplays on the side, which keeps me busy and stimulated. I have several projects in various states of development. Never a dull moment for me.

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