The local bike and ski shops in my town all seem to have significantly increased their labor/service charges the last 5 years, which I assume is in response to losing sales to the net. I try to support local shops, but when I can save $300 on a pair of skis or $1,000 on a bike by shopping on line I can find no justification for throwing away money I can't afford. I pay their service bills with a smile, but if I give them a chance to meet the net price on big ticket items it just ends up with them coming about 1/2 way down to the net price, telling me they can't go any lower, and a face to face guilt trip. Not the retail experience anyone wants.
Buying on the net is a retail reality. If local shops cannot learn to deal with it then they will suffer. I think the local shops are losing sales to the informed buyers who do their homework, know what they want, and take the time to find a deal. There still seem to be lots of people willing to pay full retail for bike and ski sizing and selection assistance with their purchase. Local shops tend to try and sell you what they have, which is completely understandable, but for a truly informed buyer it is not something they want to pay for or be subjected to.
you pretty much took the words out of my mouth. A ski shop is a business. It's not my job to keep them open by paying twice the price for a pair of skis; it's their job to figure out a way to stay open, given that they (theoretically) can't sell those skis for half of what they do. There's nothing stopping brick and mortar ski shops from selling online. Sierra Skis seems to be doing just fine with that business model, and a common argument seems to be that selling skis online is so much easier than having an actual store that it puts the stores at a disadvantage. If you're already doing it the hard way, you might as well do it the easy way too. I have asked guys at my local ski shop about matching prices, and they don't budge (although they do throw in some freebies with service, which is fine), so I don't bother anymore.
fwiw, I have a pair of 08/09 Extemes and PX12s being mounted by them right now for $80 (which is a big increase from the $45 I paid for my last pair two years ago). Even with the extra expense of mounting, my total cost is less than their beginning-of-season-sale price for the Extremes flat (~$450 vs. $395 after mounting), not to mention that their sale price on the same bindings is ~$200. Not to sound self-righteous, but no one is entitled to your business, especially if somebody else has exactly the same thing for $250 cheaper.