The advantage of a Level Nine type of operation is that you get "new" (maybe a few seasons old) equipment at a very reasonable price. And for a beginner, not buying the 2011 model of anything is OK. Note well: You can get the similar deals over the Internet. So if, for example, Start Haus has a great deal on a Nordica ski that meets your needs, you can do your business through the mail. Your best deals will be at the swaps, but if you don't know what you are looking for paying a bit more from a reputable shop that will give you good advice is the right thing to do.
New skier or old, the most important thing is the boots. If your foot is fairly normal, go to a great (not average) bootfitter and be glad you did. I've purchased from Level Nine too, mostly for the kids, but have no experience with their boot fitting. It could be fine, I just don't know. Daleboot is HQed in SLC, and it is a great place to get totally custom boots that will last forever (they are component boots with interchangeable parts). They build the boot around your foot and shin, and they are indeed comfortable and fit as perfect as a boot can fit. And you can dial-in the stiffness of the forward flex as you get better at skiing, instantly add snap-in cants, etc.. Lots of great features. But is Daleboot necessary? It will be less expensive if you can be fit correctly into a normal boot. I just mention Daleboot because they are local and have carved out a 40-year niche in the custom boot market.