I was going to post this either here or at the Philosophy subforum. I guess its fine either way.

My question is:
How many of you, do you really buy your material off the counter of a local photo store?
My guess is not many.
How many of you, have absolutely no trouble with mail order?
By that I mean, its almost as good as buying off the counter, shipping is almost non existant, delivery is fast and you are all the time satisfied with the status of the product.

Then, how many of you, struggle for their materials?
And I am talking about your basic supply of film, paper and chemicals.

Most chemicals don't come in powders and its not easy to find high enough quallity bulk chemicals to make your own, provided the formulas exist for what you like. Ilfosol-S for example, my favorite developer comes in a tiny bottle, is liquid, keeps very little and its closed-source.
Film makes sense to order only in large quantities, which means that you must have the money upfront, plan ahead and able to store it. Plus, if you just need a few rolls for an emergency you are screwed.
Paper, its problem being really its weight. The larger it is or the bigger the quantity the larger the shipping cost.

How about your equipment buying or mentainance?
Buying by order is usually not a problem, but some things you need to have in front of you to decide if they are what you're looking for.
Take cameras for example. Ergonomics is very important, not just the specs.
To buy a camera bag, I had to fly to Athens (the ticket is a lot more expensive than flying to the UK) so I could really see and feel the product. I looked at four different ones before deciding.
I was lucky with the Hasselblad, it feels good in my hands, but others don't agree. They can try it out before they buy or return it, I couldn't that easily. And now it seems not at all. Even for basic mentainance I have either to forgo the guarantee and pay an old technician of Hasselblad in Athens or send it to Denmark. And that guy is not gonna live for ever and don't think anyone's gonna replace him.

Here in Crete, there is only in one place I can buy film, chemicals and paper and the owner passed away recently after a long fight with cancer. He was a really good man and helped me a lot. His wife took over but it seems she's having trouble with it and they have a big tax debt. If it closes, I don't know what I'm gonna do.
I will have to start to order all of my stuff from Athens or Germany. So far, only PanF+ in 120 I needed to order because it doesn't exist in Greece.

Speaking of which, support is fading away. There are atleast four serious ("pro") stores in Athens that carry analog materials, including one dedicated to BW (Tetenal mostly) but they don't carry everything.
The Greek representative of Ilford doesn't seem to be interested much in the british company's products as they carry only a small selection and don't care to expand their stock.

I had orders from Athens that took months, orders that were wrong or incomplete or orders that never came.

But, I guess, I am one of the lucky ones. I may live on an island, but I am in an EU country, shipping from the contintent is relatively cheap and have no trouble with exchange.

I would like to hear from those who really struggle and feel they almost doing a heroic act. Going digital would make much more sense but they aren't.

So, what's your story? Where are you? Is it difficult to get stuff?
What would be your suggestion in improving the situation considering the analog market?