Greg: no arguments here. I see lots of people buying off the Web due to big price differences that I find hard to believe in some cases. But I still like to check things out in person, and spend my bigger bucks where I know I'll get payback when the time comes.
The store you go to sounds like it has been around a while. They've developed strong relationships with the major companies for which they deal, and their distributors as well. They've built up their reputation for paying their bills and servicing their customers to the point where they have a say. Their salesguys get rewards from people like Sony, and some of them, along with the store senior staff, get paid trips to CES or other product shows as a result of their efforts and income. So they can offer their customers the best. That's an excellent situation to be in, from their point of view and yours.
I had a store here in Ottawa that was like that. Then bad times set in, and they folded after 40 years. Now several of the staff are working at a chain that moved in and bought their inventory... but they've lost almost all their power. They have to phone head office now to even loan out a piece of display equipment that's so old no one is ever going to buy it. They hesistate when you want to return something, even when it's on extended warranty. They can no longer do a trade-up plan. It's a shame.
Still, when I had to get rid of the lemon ProScan DVD I bought from them, I ended up with a brand new Panasonic that works just great. The only hassle was that I had to really push my sales acquaintance of 30 years, because he doesn't have the pull he used to. But if I had bought off the Web, I can just imagine what I'd have to go through. I'm sorry, but driving a bad unit back to the store sounds way better to me than packaging and shipping off to some far-off city.