In running quick-start games at the shop, speeding up character creation has been a necessity. Teaching people to created characters for Castles & Crusades and Labyrinth Lord is not that difficult; really, it is a 10 or 15 minute job if that. But when you are trying to get five or six guys to create characters all at once... yeah, that gets extended out a bit, and can really eat into playing time. Which is a bummer for guys who already had characters, anyway.
So one of the ways that I've found helps a little is cutting down on the shopping time per character. Obviously, each player wants to personalize armor, weapons, and a few things, but I've found that one way to cut down on the "fiddly bits" shopping is the use of the Bag of Convenience.
This is not a magical bag, it is simple a classic "Adventurer Kit" (a la B3 and B4) cut down to the very basics. Essentially, a character can invest as much gold into a Bag of Convenience as they desire. The bag is a shoulder bag or backpack, depending on the total invested (~20 to 30 for shoulder bag, ~40 to 60 for a backpack). The bag weighs as much in pounds as it costs in gold pieces.
Thereafter, whenever the character needs something he has not previously purchased, he can simply pull it from the Bag if it: 1) costs less than the value remaining in the Bag; 2) weighs less in pounds than the value remaining in the Bag, and 3) could actually fit in the Bag.
Each item taken out of the Bag of Convenience costs the Bag's running value, in weight and gold pieces, 1 gp/# per either gp cost or # weight, whichever is greater. Thus, a vial of ink, though negligible of weight, costs 8 gp/#. 50' silk rope, costing 10 gp and weighing 5#, would cost 10gp/# from the value of the Bag.
Once taken out of the value of the Bag, an item is then with the character as normal. At the end of an adventure, a character can simply 'cash out" the value of a Bag if needed ("hey, I have an extra gold piece! Woot!)
Many players have taken this option; it gives the characters more opportunities to ahve things needful, and cuts way down on the pick and peek through shopping lists...