Rob Kelly One of the magical things about buying comics in the 70s and early 80s, when newsstands and other type stores were the only places to get them(for most of us), was you never knew what you were going to get. The people filling the racks were not comics specialists, even if they might have been fans, so there wasn't much--if any--thought over what books arrived each month. Plus, some areas of the country simply never got some books, so what you read could depend a lot on where you lived.
So, obviously, getting comics at comics stores is/was a great improvement--you get everything you want, in perfect condition, and you'd never miss an issue (and if you somehow did, you could still get it later, unlike at a 7-11, where the previous month's books seemed to fall off the face of the earth).
But the one thing that's gone now is the mystery. The mystery of not knowing what four-colored wonders you'd find on the newest spin of the racks. I can clearly remember being excited--actually excited--about finding this issue of Sgt.Fury and His Howling Commandos (#166, Oct. 1981), simply because, in my area, Sgt. Fury rarely showed up. Even though I was not a particular fan of war comics (then), I snapped it up, ahead of more regular favorites like The Flash or DC Comics Presents, because of it sheer unusualness. I ran home, laid on my basement floor, and tore into it with as much abandon as my nerdly-self could muster. I still have that comic.
I think I miss that Thrill of the Hunt a bit, I really do. While I wouldn't trade my comics-shop-shopping for anything, it's an instance where progress is not always an Absolute Good.