I LOVE shopping, and I love sales even more! Bargain shopping is like an Olympic sporting event for me. I will boast about my 75% off clearance Anthropologie sweater and my 90% off Kate Spade shoes found on eBay the same way Jackie Joyner Kersey can brag about her 3 track and field gold medals. I rarely buy anything for full price. I know when clearance seasons are, what websites have the deepest discounts, and how to win online auctions. This is an Asian cheapskate mentality instilled in me by my parents, who saved every condiment packet from fast food joints and stole toiletries, towels, shower caps, and bathrobes from hotels. (My dad still uses a worn, baby-poo brown terry robe he took from a Hilton over 20 years ago although I have no idea what anyone used the shower caps for.)
So when it comes to buying yarn, I have the same approach - buy from clearance bins, clip and save the 40% off coupons for several weeks for chain craft stores, and find online steals. Recently, I was delighted by a couple of deals I found on eBay. Both Cascade Eco and a discontinued color of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran were being auctioned (separately), and I won both yarns at around 50% off the regular retail price - that was with shipping included! What a find! "Mwah ha ha," I thought to myself, "I am beating The System, evil genius that I am!"
But not all the yarns I want are at my LYS, I argue. My education/non-profit wages never afforded the luxury of buying full-price yarns, and now, I'm temporarily in retail, which pays even less. Plus, the thrill of beating out another bidder in the last few seconds of an auction and the glory of obtaining the biggest discount are completely absent at the LYS.
Then again, nothing can substitute the sensory experience of the yarn shop. Web shopping lacks the tactile sampling of the softest cashmere, the smooth soy silk, the unique handspun yarns - items that chain stores usually don't carry either. There's the visual feast of seeing true colors undistorted by digitalization. The LYS also offers an element of social connection - running into other needlecrafters, face-to-face customer service, and general yarn networking.
To LYS or not to LYS, that is the moral dilemma. I suppose this is still a question up for debate for me. *sigh*