When I started this blog I'd meant to give tips and tricks in addition to showing cards I've made. Well, here's a tip post.
Here are several places I buy my crafting supplies. Every type of store has their own advantages and disadvantages, which I mention briefly.
1) Dedicated crafting stores - This would be places like Michaels, specialized scrapbooking stores, beading stores, etc. The benefit to shopping here is selection. They tend to stock more of what you want - now. The downside tends to be the price. You're paying for the right to find your stuff all in one place.
2) The Dollar Store - A great place for paper, ribbons, and embellishments. The price is right, just check the quality of what you're buying. I've had mixed results with tape runners I've bought at dollar stores, from horrible to pretty good. It's also a good place to get basic paint brushes, gel pens, glitter pens, glitter glue, photo corners, small mirrors, etc. The stores near me are constantly changing their stock. I found a craft knife once, but haven't seen them since I bought mine.
3) Art Supply Stores - These don't tend to have much in the way of craft supplies, but if you want good watercolour paper, paints, specialty brushes and origami paper, this is where you should go. They also tend to stock sets of pencil crayons, Copics, etc. I get my fine line black markers and chunky glitter at these stores. The prices tend to be high but you're getting quality stuff.
4) Stationary Stores - I was amazed one day, wandering around Staples, to discover they have a scrapbooking section. The prices for their punches were cheaper (a LOT cheaper) than Michaels. Alas, their selection was very limited and I already owned the punches. :( Still, if you're starting out, remember that stationary stores do stock things like craft knives (and spare blades), paper trimmers, stencils, etc.
5) Walmart - Not my favourite place to shop but they have a decent selection of goods, especially ribbon. The prices are good and if you like one stop shopping, it can be a convenient place for your basic crafting supplies.
6) Online - I've increasingly started buying my supplies online. Can't beat the prices, selection or number of stores. A lot of the stamps I like are unavailable in stores, so you have to go online, often to their site, to get them. Prices vary. You can usually find sales and deals with free shipping over a certain amount (depending if you're shopping domestically or internationally). Just remember, if you're shopping internationally, you might get hit by customs and taxes at the border and factor that into your price.
7) Fabric stores - A great place for specialty buttons, ribbon, lace, zippers and - of course - fabric. Since the selection is limited to embellishments, it's not going to be your first shopping choice, but it's good to remember that their selection of laces, etc. tends to be different if not better than that of craft stores. There's a specialty leather store in Toronto that also sells buckles, which are great as ribbon buckles. Think outside the box. :)
8) Trade shows - An excellent place to find deals and crafting goods at fantastic prices. The selection and prices are varied depending on the type of show and what exhibiters attend. Crafting shows also tend to have 'make and takes', which allow you to try new products and learn techniques from experienced crafters. Bring lots of cash as many places aren't set up for credit or debit. Also, you'll be inclined to look first and shop later, but once things sell out at a show they're gone. So better to shop early and get what you came for.
So, where do you shop for your craft supplies?