Support Your Local Pro Shop!
Pro shops are usually more in-tune to what is really going on. They are closer to their customer so they hear what they are looking for and what they are up to. They are usually way ahead of the next trend. Your pro shop is probably spending as much time as possible actually out doing the sport rather than just "selling" it. Pro shops also go out and actually try most of the gear they buy. They dont just throw a budget at gear - they take their time learning about the products and selecting the gear they think is right for their customers.
Pro Shops and smaller retailers are also out doing more grass roots events rather than just "sponsoring" larger events. Hook up with your pro shop and be a part of the action. Pro Shop owners and employees are also passionate about the industry they serve - they are not just employees!
Price - People think that larger retailers both online and off line are going to be cheaper - NOT SO. Many manufacturers have a pricing policy called MAP or Minimum Advertised Price which means that ALL dealers must not market below that MAP price. So if the MAP is $200 that is what they have to sell for. Smaller dealers can usually take off a few bucks for in-store purchases or for loyal customers. There are usually a few times of the year when all retailers can go below MAP for special SALES such as 4th of July. MAP pricing us usually held for the season - when the MAP ends, all retailers can then sell for whatever price they want - that is when things go on clearance.
Support your local shop