IMHO it's a little late for the local guy and not just in photography. Streamlined costs, shareholder returns has left us with a need for the big retailers to be all things to all people. I'm sure if the big box management looked at the cost structure to sales volume of the small guy they'd just laugh their ar**s off at the R.O.I. Of course that doesn't stop them wanting the little guys bread and butter business. It's not long ago that if you went into a specialty store all the staff would be active in that specialty on a personal basis. I know a lot of advanced hobbyists and semi-pros who drive school buses or work as couriers to enable them to pay their bills and have time to do serious photography. In fact, when I had the store, the Qualex delivery guy was a musician and poet, (good at both I might add). Someone mentioned earlier that, in the old days, a printer was a profession and earned a living wage. At 15 cents a print it's kinda difficult to live!
All true. I can still hope and dream! There are still some local stores that are doing well, though - Biggs Camera in Charlotte, NC has survived and seems to be thriving, at a time when the other two local stores (Charlotte Camera and Camera World of NC) have both gone under.
ďArt is what we call... the thing an artist does." Seth Godin