I'm going to preface this by saying that I know what it's like to live on a very tight budget and have bought yarn and knitting supplies at the big evil chains and on the internet myself. I also swear that I do not nor have I ever owned a yarn store.
Having said that I heard a piece on NPR a few weeks ago that confirmed what I have been noticing in the last few years. Local Yarn Stores are Disappearing!! I have seen 4 out of 6 independent yarn stores in my area close. I have seen stores that I visit whenever I travel close. I have tried to track down stores in a dozen cities while traveling that are listed in the current phone book and on the web and are just empty store fronts.
The internet is both cheap and convenient. I have bought tons of yarn in my pajamas, flaunting my bed hair-do.
I have bought my knitting supplies at Michael's, Joann's, and even the evil Wal-Mart.
Having said that, there is no pleasure for me that beats the independent yarn store. Getting to touch, squeeze and smell the yarn. Getting help and advice from owners and employees. Seeing yarns that I've never seen before and patterns created by locals. I plan outings, beg and plead with my boyfriend, bribe family members, scour the net for hours and neglect my nephews for the chance to visit these stores. I bet there are others out there who feel the way I do.
I vow to try to patronize my local stores more, even just to pay a dollar more for needles. Is anyone willing to join me?