I bought a 12 quart pressure canner yesterday. I bought it used, and I drove for two and a half hours to get it. It was a smokin' deal. Sure, I could have gone just down the street to my local hardware store, or slightly farther to my local big box retailer and bought a brand new one in the box for about one hundred dollars. It would have been shiny and new, unused, untouched and much closer. What did I get instead for all my driving? I got to meet Connie - a delightful, dyed-in-the-wool Texas woman. I also got a like-new canner, some nice conversation, some free advice and a jar of Connie's homegrown beans. She even told me I could call her if I wanted to, just to let her know how my canning was going. For forty bucks. Folks, you just can't beat that.
I also bought another rabbit to add to our herd. I drove really far for that as well - about three hours round trip. I got to meet a guy and his wife who are also new to rabbit breeding. We agreed to keep in touch so that we can help each other out in the future. Add to this the relationships I'm cultivating with the butcher and the feed store clerks, and I'm starting to gain a respectable repertoire of contacts with an endless supply of knowledge and experience.
The point of this post, I suppose, is this: there is just no substitute for face to face business. Skip the online stores and big box retailers and buy your stuff used and from private individuals or small businesses whenever you can. You'll get to meet lots of interesting people with a lot more to offer you than just the "thing" you're buying.