My sister turned me on to Penzeys years ago, and since then I've never gone back to grocery store spices. I think their spices are much fresher, they have a mind-boggling variety to choose from, and I like that you can buy them in all different quantities. I really don't think they're much more expensive than what you'd find in your local store, and when you consider the difference in quality, there's no comparison.
I find it interesting to note what I order most frequently--I clearly rely on some of the same flavorings from week to week. I feel like I'm constantly renewing my supply of fennel seed, marjoram, ground ginger, whole nutmeg, garam masala, and of course their unmatched double vanilla. If you never try anything else from Penzeys, I highly suggest you at least try their double-strength Madagascar vanilla. While it's not cheap at $16 for 4 oz, you only need half what any recipe calls for. So it literally goes double the distance.
This order was full of some old standbys. I got beautiful, sagey green Turkish bay leaves...
Dried arbol chilies, perfect for rubbing roasted meats, but mostly for pasta alla amatriciana, which we eat almost once a week...
And black tellicherry Indian peppercorns.
I also ordered China cassia cinnamon which I go through at the speed of light. No photo, though.
With every order, Penzeys throws in a freebie. Often it's a blend, like a salad dressing mix, or grill seasoning. This time I got their Italian herb mix: dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, and cracked rosemary.
The husband and the dog watched as I tore into the box, gleefully pulling out each item and holding it up for them to admire. Although summertime is an excellent time to take advantage of fresh herbs, dried ones are still useful in many dishes and always welcome in the hungry dog's home.