For me it's a simple matter of logistics, I live in Nebraska, not a lot of local shops that sell snowboard stuff. Hell not a lot of places sell wakeboard shit either which surprises me with all the lakes around here. The only place that carries either is a box store, and there is just something I don't like about buying overpriced shit that is stuffed in the corner behind the fucking golf clubs.
However, if I did live in the mountains I would for sure check local shops first. I would still be the same off season/outdated/close out cheapskate I am now though. The points made are the type of service you get from said local shops. By the time I get to Summit Co. I've dropped a considerable amount already, lift tickets, lodging, gas ect. and I already have all my shit. I do however browse a lot of the shops, just to actually see and feel the various products so when shopping online I know what to look for. I don't waste anyone's time trying on boots, or asking a shitload of questions. If I do try stuff on it's because I'm going to buy something, most of the time it's something little, I got my current gloves, and goggles at A-Basin (I always buy something there because I love the place). If I get a good vibe from a shop I'll buy something even if it's only a t-shirt, most of the time all it takes is a smile and a "can I help you" If it's some snot nosed little brat that looks down his nose at me cause I'm "just browsing" then I wonder around the store mean muggin the little bastard, while I try on 30 different jackets
It's like the place I have my board tuned, can't think of the name of it right now. It's the little tune shop downtown Breck that is run by an old hippy dude. I asked around a couple places and most were like "he's just here for a tune, it's 40 bucks now fuck off and don't waste my time" When I walked into that little shop and saw that dude smiling ear to ear tuning some ski's and he stopped what he was doing to ask if he could help me, I knew I found the place I was going to spend my money. He even let me watch him work and gave me a few pointers about tuning. I know I can buy a tune kit and do it myself, but ya know what, I won't because of that old guys attitude, he deserves my business.
Deserving my business brings up another point. I grew up at the end of an era where the customer is king, and pretty much everything was locally owned. I grew up with the work ethic that you do a good job because that's what you are PAID to do. In today's world the Wal-Mart attitude has ruined all that, it's like thank you for your hard earned cash, now fuck off NEXT! I sold cars in the early 90's and believe me if you were a pushy asshole you didn't sell many cars. I went to the local Dodge dealership a couple weeks ago to look at a used truck they had on their back lot. It was priced at 3000, didn't look bad on the CL ad. I get there after calling and talking to a sales rep on the phone, and the thing was a total POS leaking oil, interior trashed, brakes shot. The motor was solid, and trans felt good so I made an offer of 1800, the salesman takes the offer to his manager, came back in 3 seconds with a flat NO. I asked to talk to the manager, to see what the bottom dollar on it was, he wouldn't budge. I made the off hand comment as I was getting ready to leave that the car sales game sure had changed. He stopped me to ask what I meant. I told him in my days of selling cars we would have made a counter offer, or tried to find a different car on the lot that would work. He looked down his nose at me and said "Do I look like I'm here to sell $3000 cars"? Then he asked me why I got out of selling cars, I told him it's cause I'm not enough of an asshole and walked out.