i was gifted a certificate for a new penzey's store that recently opened near me. I have never been, nor ever tried from on-line purchases. What do you use and recommend for what purpose?
I have a Penzey's right around the corner and like them very much. While I get my whole spices that I use in larger quantities from the Indian market for a much more reasonable price, I buy my peppercorns, cinnamon, some herbs and hard to find spices (sumac, aleppo pepper) there. Diamond Crystal kosher salt is a great price. I have only tried a couple of their own spice blends, and only because of the free coupons that come with their catalog, but here is a thread on the same subject that has a lot of suggestions: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/583462
I buy my ground ancho, cumin, cinnamon (different varieties), vanilla at Penzey's. Basically any spice or dried herb I need, I buy it there.
I have a cabinet full of Penzey's spices and spice mixes. The usual cinnamon, vanilla beans, cocoa, chilis (both powdered and dried), cumin . . . as Jay F said, any dried herb or spice. They also have some blends (like Mural of Flavor) that work well as a quick spice rub for chicken, fish, etc.
If the store that opened in your area is anything like the store here, it's a pleasant place to shop. There are jars of each spice that you can open and sniff if you're so inclined. They also have recipe cards throughout the store and many of the ones I have tried were quite good.
Also, since you now have a store local, I would recommend signing up for their catalog. It's full of recipes and always comes with a free coupon. It's usually for a free jar of some particular spice. But sometimes it's free any product (and yes, that's when I get my saffron ;) The last few catalogs the coupon was for free boxes with multiple spices.
I was told by a nice Penzey's saleslady is that the coupons do not expire! I think this means that you could walk into a Penzey's with a handful of coupons going back a few catalogs and they will all be accepted. I haven't done this yet (I haven't been to Penzey's for a while), but I intend to try.