Prior to the advent of online buying, a buyer had the option of buying locally, or calling a mail order outfit, usually one who advertised on photography magazines, and many of them were awful. I did discover B&H that way back in the 1980's and have bought from since. I also discovered a couple that only got one order!
Although we are a relatively small town, our local Camera store branched out into high end Audio Video and into online sales, and even opened a second store after 100 years in business. Even so, their stores do not generally keep the high end 1 series bodies or the D4 in stock, so I have to order from the warehouse if I want to see it. (I can pick it up, its only a short distance from the store) They do have a reasonable assortment of tripods, heads, and other accessories, but nothing close to what can be ordered online.
This is a typical example of adapt or die, stores that did not take internet retailing seriously and do what it took to stay in business are paying the price.