Sorry but your argument is bullshit for the simple fact that this is a first world sport. If you can afford to do it at all, you can afford to support local business, period.
The long term benefits of shopping local not only support the sport and your community, but will add up to actual savings in your pocketbook through shipping, bro deals, insider trading, etc, everyone has already explained this to you in the thread.
Walmart is not niche adventure sport retail, comparing the two is silly at best.
I think the manner that you wrote this reply really needs to be fallowed up with a rant...
And again I will state that I am not against supporting local shop, but if you cant afford to there is no reason you have to.
Snowboarding can be found all over the world. I believe the stat I just looked up still holds china at 60% a third world country, yet they still had some competitors snowboarding in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Also most of your other third world countries are found in environments and regions that are unsuitable for winter sports in general. I find it hard to believe that a place such as Mexico would have a strong stable training facility for snowboarding.... I suppose it does reach down to as far as the 70's during the day during winter.
Even so saying that snowboarding is a "first world sport" in no way means that since you can afford to snowboard you can afford to support local shops. I can admit I am a bit of a gear whore but I do a lot of stuff to help me accomplish this and I will give examples for my savings to afford my obsession since I do not make an abundant amount of money. I own a house, 2 cars, and a dog.
First savings is for my season pass. I purchase this through a ski club for a high school that my sister works at. Savings aprox $85
Second savings is a snowboard. I like to try and buy a new board every year or two to replace one in my current collection. I have an all mountain board, more park oriented board that I keep tuned, and another park/jib oriented board I keep de-tuned and is slightly smaller. I have only ever bought a brand new board once while still living at home. I normally buy my board towards the end of the current season when sales hit, or beginning of the next season. I always find the sales hit the web before my local hills shop (they do not carry any brands I like anyways). When the sales do hit local I can never find the size or exact thing I am looking for and I can still usually save more online. Savings buying online are usually $50+
Third savings is outerwear and probably my biggest savings. I buy most of my outerwear on oakleyvault.com and save big. I never buy brand new outerwear and if I wait and look for it at my local shop (they do have a good selection), by time the prices drop I can still find it cheaper online. They are also almost always sold out of my size or color way I wanted. Last year I saved over $350 on the jacket, pants, and gloves that I ordered on oakley vault.
Bindings I usually use until I deem them warn out and buy last year model online. again at my local shop they have limited brands and are usually sold out of any of the good models by time the prices drop and still cost more than online. Last year however I did really want the new RIDE Capo binding and bought them brand new. I did not buy them at my local shop because they only carry Rome, Burton, and Solomon bindings or I would have.
Boots I wear until they fall apart and I always buy brand new because if I wait until the prices drop they are usually out of my size. I tend to try and go to a local place (and by local good shop I mean 2+ hours from me because I live in Ohio) so that I can try on different sizes to get my fit.
These are just starters. I rarely ever drive alone to ride so I can split gas. I put money in a separate account all year to save for my Colorado trip. Last year I took an 8 day trip. I flew with a buddy and rented a car that we split, stayed with people for free that I had never met before or talked to in my life for 4 days who also hooked us up with a half price passes one day. then the next 4 days I stayed with my uncle in the place they rented and was aloud to stay for free. This is just so I could afford to fly out, eat, ride, and enjoy the amazing mountains of Colorado even in the crap snow conditions of last year. This alone saved me who knows how much money.
If I did not do what I need to save and only bought local I would NEVER
be able to afford what I have simply put. I have been working over time the past 7 weeks straight saving for a new pair of boots and if I can save $20 someplace else I probably will. If I had the money to spend then sure I have no problem supporting some place local.
As for your long term benefits that is in no way a guarantee. Simply because you shop at the same local shop does not mean they will grow to like you enough to give you kick backs and big savings. If they do however, how much extra money do you believe you have spent before this finally happens? How much gear do you think you really need to buy before the owner all the sudden says "WOW does he buy a lot of his shit at my store... Maybe I should give him a break on something."??
As for the walmart comparison maybe given scope of size it was not a perfect choice but they do share similarities. I hear this debate all the time around me. People proclaim "you should never shop at walmart you need to support your local grocery store! Support your local economy!" and people reply "I cant afford to pay the extra $x amount a week it costs not to.". You still will have your "walmarts" of the snowboarding world that people will buy from and save more than a local shop can afford to offer everyone. Your The-house.com, Proboardshop.com, Evo.com, Easternboarder.com, Eternalsnow.com... These places, like walmart, can push way more product than the smaller guys and can afford to take a little less profit per sale and still make more in the long run. Also most of these big name sites have a very low minimum you need to spend for free shipping.