The benefits of buying from a local camera store are more knowledgeable staff, better selection of equipment and accessories, expert advice and recommendations, and supporting local, independent businesses. Small, local and independently owned businesses are important to prevent large retailers from gaining exclusive control over electronics sales and dictating product selection based on profit margin rather than variety or quality.
Local camera stores are more likely to focus exclusively on cameras and equipment, and the staff of a local store is more likely to have a degree of expertise and enthusiasm for cameras and photography in general. They can generally provide expert advice based on their own experiences with various products and equipment and offer valuable tips on its use.
They are also more likely to have a working knowledge of the various brands and accessories and can steer customers toward products that best suits their needs. They can also develop closer relationships with customers and become familiar with their needs to make valid suggestions and recommendations. They can tell which camera bodies are the strongest, which sensors are the best and which lenses cause distortions. They can also advise customers on proper aperture settings, the best F-stops and shutter speeds for particular lighting situations and which filters produce certain results.
The large department stores that sell a variety of electronics and other merchandise do not have the ability to train or retain staff with the same degree of knowledge and expertise. The employees are rarely able to specialize in one area because they must generally cover one or more departments. They are seldom able to devote a substantial amount of time exclusively to one customer or become familiar with the equipment which most likely changes weekly.