There are several different varieties of stores in the game and you can recognize them by the signs in front. Herbalists and booksellers sometimes do not have signs and occasionally the Thieves Guild will masquerade as a pawnbroker or inn. It will show on your map as orange or green, but it does not function like a store or an inn. If it shows as a store on your map and there's no sign, you'll have to click on it in "info" mode or enter to find out.
The stores (except banks and taverns) vary according to the variety of goods they sell. This difference is reflected in the mercantile skill of the shopkeeper and shows in the message you get when you enter the store.
At the top end of the scale, "you can't find the slightest defect" in the goods. In these stores you will have the best chance of finding the high-end items of that type. You will pay top-dollar for whatever you buy and you will receive low-dollar for anything you sell. This merchant has the highest Mercantile skill.
At the other end of the scale you will find stores with "rusty relics" laying around and mice running over you feet. At these stores you will have the lowest chance of finding high-end items. You will also pay low-dollar for anything you buy , but get top-dollar for anything you sell. This merchant has the lowest Mercantile skill.
The other levels of stores ("skillfully made", "adequate construction" and "cobbled together") fall in between these two extremes.
|Armorers: sell armor and a few weapons. They will buy any armor or weapons and will repair items.|
|Weaponsmiths: sell weapons and a few pieces of armor. They will buy any armor or weapons and will repair items.|
|Jewelers: buy and sell jewelry and a few precious and semi-precious stones. Jewelry is mainly the items you can enchant (rings, bracelets, wands, bracers, etc.).|
|Herbalists/Alchemists: buy and sell potion ingredients (which includes precious and semi-precious stones). They will not buy potions, but may occasionally have one to sell.|
|Bookstores/Libraries: buy and sell books. Some bookstores are libraries. You can read the books, but may not buy them.|
|Clothiers: buy and sell clothing, including enchanted clothing.|
|General Stores: buy and sell a little bit of everything. They are your sole source for wagons and horses. They will buy weapons, books, clothing and jewelry. They will also repair items.|
|Pawnshops: sell a little bit of everything (mostly armor, weapons and books). They will generally pay higher prices and will buy everything except ingredients and clothing. Some also repair items.|
|Banks: deposit and withdraw funds, make loans, issue letters of credit, buy and sell houses and ships. Any money you have on deposit with a bank is available at any bank within that province. Money on deposit in another province is not available. For example, you cannot deposit money in Daggerfall and withdraw it in Sentinel. Banks are apparently not subject to the quality modifier. A gold piece is a gold piece is a gold piece.|
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot rob banks. The closest you can come to free money is to take out a loan from a bank and then skip out on paying it back. Your rep will suffer in the province where you borrowed it, but if you're never planning on going back there again or if you're already considered "pond scum"...
On the subject of store utility, I'm of the opinion that there are only three kinds of stores that are consistently useful: weaponsmiths, armorers and pawnshops. Jewelers are occasionally handy, but you can buy and sell anything they carry in a pawnshop if you're willing to exercise a little patience. Bookstores/Libraries are useful only if you don't belong to the Mages Guild or a good temple, but pawnshops/general stores will buy and sell books, too. Herbalists/Alchemists are necessary for potion creation and they're the only place where you can sell most ingredients (pawnshops will buy precious and semiprecious stones and the occasional Holy Relic), but I've always preferred items to potions since items can be used more than once. Consequently, the only ingredients I pick up are Daedra Hearts, Lich Dust and gems. Clothiers are about the most useless store in the game. Except for selling the occasional enchanted clothing item that can't be sold to a pawnshop or general store, I never use them.
The vast majority of stores you encounter will be the same from game to game (you're planning on playing Daggerfall more than once, aren't you?). The City of Daggerfall always has one high-end weaponsmith with seven (count 'em: seven) shelves of goodies, two high end armorers with two to three sets of shelves in each store and one each of a "skillfully made" armorer and a "cobbled together" armorer. Together they form a rude circle, so it's quite easy to run from one to the next, break in, clean out the shelves, and move on to the next. If you work between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. you won't even have to dodge the wraiths and ghosts . Then you can sell everything at the "cobbled together" armorer (economics 101: you don't need to worry about a "rusty relics" pawn shop when you're dealing in bulk). The City of Sentinel also has three or four high-end shops, but they're not so neatly arranged.
The towns of Newtower and Holmarket in the Daggerfall province have a rusty pawnshop pretty consistently.
firstname.lastname@example.org reports a high-end weaponsmith in Holleigh, Anticlere and a rusty pawnshop in Bubyrydata in the Alik'r Desert.
Sandra (email@example.com) reports that Blackfort in Daggerfall (SE of Gothway Garden) has a rusty pawnshop and there is a rusty General Store in Gothway Garden. She suggests robbing stores in Chesterwark and reselling in Blackfort and/or Gothway Garden for a tidy profit.
Gerard Ploeger (firstname.lastname@example.org) advises that there is a rusty store in Whiteville, Wrothgarian Mountains. There are other rusty stores in Wrothgarian Mountains at Kirkwich and Singworth. He also says that the Mages Guild at Phrygias, Phrygias has soul traps with working dragonlings and the Guild at Myrkwasa, Myrkwasa has a trap with a Daedra Lord in it. (I've found a Daedra Lord gem in Aldingwall, Daggerfall ).
George (email@example.com) reports a high-end armorer in Penfort Derry in Daggerfall province with several sets of shelves to go through.