Brick & mortar or chains

Lately I've been on a quest to update my audio system. When I purchased my current system over 20 years ago, I bought my equipment at a local brick & mortar store which is long gone now. Back then, we had quite a few audio stores as well as the chains (Circuit City, etc). I can remember going into either one and seeing lots of people looking and listening to receivers, CD players, TTs and so on. Fast forward to 2019---besides the internet, we have one store in town and its not all that. The chains have a tiny a/v section and you rarely see anyone even looking at them. So I've had to drive 2+ hours away to a few stores to listen to equipment---the one place I did buy from was an hour away and the dealer sells out of his house! I've called a few dealers to ask questions and guess what, they weren't home! Sign of the times I guess---I just miss the brick and mortar stores and audio shopping. 
Change your perspective, turn it to an advantage. Make it a road trip/vacation to an audio show. It'll blow your mind and give you more ideas of fabulous sound than you ever dreamed! If you play it right you can buy show demos at discount and haul them home for your next dream system.  

OR use the classifieds here and the location search to zero in on your zip code. You can find/hear stuff in your locale and get premium gear way beyond the chain stores. 

Don't be afraid of home dealers. I frequented one in my city and they were instrumental in selling and guiding me way back when. Some home dealers are excellent. 

Finally, count yourself blessed to have to drive only 2 hours. I cannot remember the number of times I have done two hours to hear gear. Likely in the dozens. You want the dream system? Work for it. 

Don't despair - conquer!  :) 
Thanks @douglas_schroeder   Good points! I guess I'm being a little nostalgic too. I plan to go to the Washington DC audio show this November (my first) and hopefully my first AXPONA next year. I've learned so much by just reading discussions on Audiogon. Thanks for the advice!! :)