Now that I am almost three months into the Art of Crochet, I have had the opportunity to spread my financial love around to several different chain craft stores. Here are my thoughts so far.
I got my initial supplies here and have shopped Hobby Lobby for years for other things. Their yarn selection is pretty decent (for a beginner or budget conscious hooker) and they have a good selection of hooks and notions. They have some sort of yarn on sale almost every week, so this has become a regular stop. (3 out of 5 hooks)
This is another store we have used as a family for years, so it was only natural to check it out for crochet supplies. Their yarn supply is limited, but they do have things Hobby Lobby doesn't so we have to check them from time to time. Their hook and notion selection is also more limited than Hobby Lobby. The crochet and knitting section in our particular Michaels is all the way in one of the back corners, so it really seems more of an after-thought than anything. (2 out of 5 hooks)
We just started going to this place within the last week, and it has quickly become my favorite store. The yarn selection is unmatched in Douglasville and the hook and notion section has much more than Hobby Lobby or Michaels. I remember going to this chain as a kid with my mom and grandmother and wish we had thought of it when I started crochet. While we will continue to visit all three of the chains in the future, JoAnn is number one in my book. (4 out of 5 hooks)
On a side note, we visited our first LYS (Local Yarn Store) today, even though it isn't really local to us (about 40 miles away). While the yarn selection was incredible, it is much pricier than I can justify at this point of my experience. Also, the store is geared more toward knitters, and we got the feeling that you had to be a regular to be really welcome. For now, I'll stick with my boring little chains.