We wouldn't dream of a trip to Madison, WI (our food capitol) without a stop at Penzeys, but, in fact, I live in a tourist town that has a spice shop. IT is actually a tea-and-yarn shop, but they sell spices in bulk and 'though they don't have quite the variety that Penzeys has, they really do have better stuff than the grocery store. If they ever close down, I don't know what I'll do, because I think I'm addicted to tellicherry (sp?) peppercorns. Spice has always been expensive, but when you think about it, well worth the extra expense. When you pay a little more, less goes a longer way.
When I was on the road I bought some cumin that I honestly think was flour that had been colored. I bought cinnamon -- twice, once in powder form, once in sticks -- that had NO FLAVOR. When we finally settled here, once again I bought cumin with no flavor. I knew about the tea shop, and bought some spices there. Now I seldom buy elsewhere (unless I'm in Madison!!!)