I hear you. Ditto on the sentiments. Smaller shops can be great.
My small, local shop is far preferable to the larger, well-stocked shop across town, or compared to the smart-aleck shop around the corner. Attitude is everything. My preferred shop's staff is incredibly knowledgeable, willing to learn about what they don't already know, willing to work hard to fulfill the need, and are able to order darned near anything if they don't have it in stock. Of course, the prices aren't always the lowest, and there can be the wait for ordered items. But, I get what I want and have a good/fruitful exchange with the staff. Sometimes there is no substitute for having it in your hands, to eval. But if you know what you want, such a smaller, dedicated shop can be wonderful.
I've spent more at the local shop in 18mos than in 10yrs at the larger, full-stocked shops. And all of that comes down to two things: attitude and willingness to work with me to help me get what I want.