I have always been a strong proponent of buying locally, whether it's buying vegetables at the local market or purchasing a camera at a local camera store. The benefits of dealing with local businesses far outweigh the few "pennies' you may save buying out of town.
I woud like to illustrate my point using Photo Central as an example. When I moved to Winnipeg in 1985, I needed to find a camera store that would satisfy my needs. Before long, I had found my way into Photo Central where I met Dick Toews, then manager of the store. Dick later purchased the store and ran it until just a couple of years ago when he retired and passed the business on to his youngest son, Andrew.
In the 25 years that I have frequented Photo Central, personnel has changed from time to time but, generally, the staff has been very committed to the store. I'm a firm believer in building strong working relationships and, having a stable group of knowledgeable individuals who love what they do, makes my purchasing experience that much more enjoyable. They offer quality products and are always helpful in providing good and appropriate information about the products they sell. If they can't answer my question, they won't hesitate to find the answer I need. And now, Photo Central also offers excellent printing; we are currently working on a new project but more about that later!
While pricing is competitive at Photo Central, the biggest advantage for my business has been the excellent service that I have received from that store over the years. I remember one occasion when photographing a couple of provinces away and I accidentally dropped a lens. I was but one phone call away as Dick had a new lens in my hands the very next day! Service like that you just can't buy! And that is only one example of the great service I have been privy to over the years.
Buying locally makes a lot of sense in other ways too. The money you spend in your city remains in your region and helps local industries to grow. I'm always appalled when I hear that so and so purchased a piece of equipment from another city or even worse, online. I do realize there are exceptions when there simply isn't a good store locally and you need to find one outside your region. Otherwise, how can you expect local businesses to survive if you don't support them!
My loyalty to the store has also benefited me in other ways. Over the years, the store has also been very supportive in promoting and sponsoring various photographic events, some of which I have been involved with. Perhaps even more importantly though, I have in the process, also made a number of excellent friends!
Whether you need to find tasty olives, a warm down-filled coat or a good camera, it pays to buy locally! Remember - what goes around comes around!