Thinking on Local Product Availability
I have been shooting film and making prints for almost 40 years. In the beginning I was able to purchase everything I needed locally. (I live in a town of 75,000 in middle America..USA). At one time, even the discount stores had a healthy inventory of film products, and even some entry-level darkroom gear. My first enlarger (a Bogen) was purchased at the local K-mart. Eventually I went into business as a Photographer, after working as a photographer for others for a few years. I was able to get almost all my needs at the local "Kodak Stockhouse Dealer" in town. A small family owned camera store that carried a little bit of about everything, including bulk chemistry, hypo crystals, etc. Eventually this store went away, and the only store left was a very "consumer" oriented small chain store. They acquired the "Kodak Stockhouse Dealership" but didn't stock anything. Whereas, prior to this, the original family run store would stock what I needed, and I was free to purchase it as I used it, this newer store would only "special order" what I needed, and I had to pay shipping on top of purchase price of goods. I started doing mail-order. This was in the mid-1980's. From this time forward, I have had to mail order everything I use except for the most basic of studio supplies. (staples, toilet paper, etc.) I still use a large quantity of LF materials, for both work and personal projects, in addition to digital supplies. I guestimate I will have shot close to 300 sheets of 4x5 film by the end of this month (March consumption). Not a trivial amount, plus I process all my own (B/W, E-6, etc), so there is the chemical requirements also. Local unavailability of product could not stop my consumption because I earn a living from the use of film materials, however lack of visibility and apathy on the part of retailers has stopped many consumers from using film, that would otherwise still use it.
If more film products were visible on shelves at stores, more people would buy them! Simple as that.