My very first memory is of being taken to the Aladdin's cave of artists' materials upstairs at Gadsby's in Leicester to buy a tiny limited set of watercolours. (Gadsby's is still up and running and operating an online shop.)
Throughout my teenage years and art school I relied on local art shops, dedicated to selling materials to artists and everything seemed very precious and rare and expensive. I only bought what I needed at the time. Or was I just a starving artist then?
Now things are different and although dedicated art shops are still holding there own in the market place there are other places to buy art materials.
Local Art Shops.
Coleman's of Peterborough In the centre of town. They offer 10% discount to artist and are very helpful. They also sell via the internet.
Local Hobby Shops.
Hobbycraft On a retail park just out of town. National chain, specialising in all sorts of crafts in it's large store. Artists' supplies no more than Coleman's and staff not as helpful. Bit like a supermarket. Large on line operation.
Local Discount Art/Hobby Shops
The Works Outlets both in town and out of town. Art and craft supplies are just a small part of cheap books and toys. Some lovely art books. Supplies are cheap and cheerful but I've found some great bargains there. Also large online operation.
Online Art Suppliers
Ah. My favourite.
There are two that I use regularly.
They both sell great products at great prices delivered quickly and securely.
Although these are primarily online suppliers they both issue a comprehensive paper catalogue each year with regular updates. Their marketing is good, via email as well.
I usually take far too long to order online ( this is from a woman who was one of the first to do on-line grocery shopping) so I always order by phone , having first consulted catalogue and website. Both companies make the phone experience easy and I like both companies a lot and equally.
Online Specialist Art Suppliers.
Cornelissen & Son These are the Rolls Royce of artists' suppliers. I visited one of their sister shops, Brodie and Middleton, recently and felt Turner was about to pop in for some more white for his clouds.
Of course you can buy all the materials you like but if you don't practice your skills, eg drawing, as often as you are able, then it's all a waste of money!