The merchants in Skyrim are incredibly useful in the beginning of the game and see their use diminish as the player becomes more godlike over time. That being said there are always items that will be of use to the player even in the later parts of the game.
Merchants can actually be a useful way of saving yourself time and the headache of tracking down or grinding out certain items. If you’re looking to avoid doing tedious tasks or it’s your first time playing then consider visiting a merchant for the following items.
10 Items For Quests
There are many quests in the game that require you to fetch annoying to locate items like alchemy ingredients or books. Instead of traipsing across the wilderness looking for that one mushroom you can simply visit a merchant and buy whatever you need.
The quest givers typically don’t care where you got it from and honestly, they’re probably expecting you to buy it for them anyway. Save yourself the time and annoyance and just buy the items you need for fetch quests from merchants found in the nearest town.
9 House Materials
Having a house is incredibly useful and with Hearthfire you have the option of building your own house from scratch. But in order to do this, you’re going to need a considerable number of materials to build with.
You could track these items down or mine them yourself, but if you have the spare cash you might consider just buying them from a nearby merchant. It may take some time to find enough merchants to supply you with the items you need, but it’s certainly faster than gathering them yourself.
8 Items With Enchantments
When you start diving into enchanting you’ll find that you need to learn enchantments first and that can only be done by disenchanting items at an arcane enchanter. If you have the cash to burn and want to get into enchanting then make sure to visit nearby merchants and see who has items with enchantments on them.
Again it takes a while to find exactly what you’re looking for, but if you’re dropping off loot and see something interesting then grab it. Useful enchantments to grab are things like Paralyze, Soul Trap, anything that Fortifies and Absorb.
7 Soul Gems
In order to start enchanting and using the items, you create you’re going to need a steady supply of Soul Gems. There are places you can go that have enemies you can farm to get these, but if you simply can’t be bothered to fight Necromancers or mine geodes in Blackreach then buying is your best bet.
Most of the larger communities will have a magic shop or two with merchants who’ll sell gems of various sizes to you. If you come across filled gems then definitely grab them as that also saves you from having to fill them yourself.
6 Smithing Materials
Smithing is a lucrative activity in Skyrim that can net you some strong weapons and armor for your adventures early on. In order to start smelting new items, you’ll need a lot of raw materials which can be a pain to find organically.
Once again merchants prove to be an efficient means of obtaining the materials you need. With high enough skills and the right setup, you can buy supplies from merchants, craft the items, and then sell them to other merchants at a profit. It can be a great way to build your gold reserves for expensive purchases like homes.
5 Alchemy Ingredients
While smithing is nice for the early parts of the game and to make money, Alchemy is arguably stronger and benefits you long into the endgame. Potions can get expensive and are hard to obtain in large quantities.
But you can buy ingredients from merchants and make them yourself without ever having to set foot on a farm or wander through the woods looking for what you need. In fact, alchemy can become so powerful it breaks the game and merchants make it easier to do.
You’re going to be doing a lot of traveling in this game and you will find a lot of loot that will leave you encumbered. This makes a horse one of the better things to purchase from merchants.
At each stable across the land you’ll find a variety of horses available for purchase. What’s available will depend on where you are so if you’re looking for a dapple grey, for example, you’ll need to go to the Riften Stables in The Rift. The one thousand coins may seem steep at first, but you’ll recoup that pretty quickly with all the stuff you and your horse can carry.
If your character uses a bow as your primary means of dealing damage then you’re going to burn through arrows quickly. Sure you can find a dungeon full of bow toting foes to get more or use glitches, but if you have deep pockets and don't want to take the time to grind more then arrows are a great purchase from merchants.
Any blacksmith will have arrows, though the Fletcher found in Solitude and The Drunken Hunstman found in Whiterun will have quite a stash for you to buy. The types of arrows you can buy will be based on your level so expect to buy lots of cheap, low-quality arrows at first and snag the good ones whenever you see them.
Whether you’re a shady thief looking to make a heist or a warrior wanting to ensure you can open any doors or chests you come across you’ll want a stash of lockpicks on you. If you have a low skill level or the lock is difficult you’ll break quite a few lockpicks trying to break in which makes having a lot of them on hand a necessity.
Blacksmiths, General Goods Vendors, and Fences are a great source of lockpicks. They cost around two gold and can open chests that can potentially net you thousands of gold, so even if you break a hundred of them you’ll still recoup the expense. Buy these whenever you see them.
1 Skill Training
Perhaps the best thing you can buy from merchants is training for your skills. Skills can take quite a while to level up and the higher the level the longer it takes. Fortunately you can simply buy levels up to level 90 from Trainers.
It does get expensive as your levels increase, but if you’re swimming in gold and don’t want to spend the time to get your Speech skill up to snuff then just buy the levels. As an added bonus if the Trainer is also a merchant then the hundreds if not thousands you spend end up in their inventory allowing you to sell more to them.