I began scrapbooking almost 20 years ago (UGH, that went by way too fast) and pretty much the only vendor was Creative Memories. The first demo I had was not a fit (hobby demo, had a full-time job) but I found another one that I'm still using. I went to many of her three-four hour workshops and learned something new every time. I paid more for the products than I would have if I bought (with a coupon) at a big store, and I have no regrets since I learned so much from her that I would not have learned had I purchased at a big store. I still use the CM cutting systems (guillotine, trimmer, circles & ovals) every day.
It will take you a bit to discover your own style, so be restrained on buying until you know what you like (and will use). You may want to make a few smaller albums at first. I like the CM albums because I think they look so elegant sitting on my shelf. After I've spent so much time and money, I don't want them to look cheap. There are so many options now, you can find so many wonderful products now, even at the big stores. Wow, I was very blessed not to have too many choices when I started out! Ha! Best of luck to you and enjoy. Oh, and don't be afraid to try digi too