Over the past 28 years I have been buying guitars I have found that yes alot of small town guitar stores have a very limited inventory.I have worked in a Vintage shop for the past few years and its a big wake up call. Inventory isn't cheap, running a store is a huge headache, and it's impossible to please everyone. You try to keep an inventory thats popular yet functional and service the communities needs and wants.
You buy into exclusive dealerships only to find out you just paid 16k in inventory and all the mail order companies don't have to abide by any territorial rules.
The big chain stores move into the closest town of a decent population and immediately start selling overpriced crap to uneducated consumers and wannabee musicians for what they believe is a "good deal" . The next day or week that "good deal" comes across my counter in an unplayable form as it was sold. The action looks more like an olympic high jump and the intonation is close if your playing a washtub or horn from "How the Grench Stole Christmas".
Since they didnt buy from us we cant just do 2-3 hours of work for free. Add $45.00 for a complete setup and intonation.
The frets are sharper than the barbed wire at Stalag 15. another 25 bucks to clean up that mess. That adds another $70 bucks to their so called " good deal" from the chain store.
Now they are $40 bucks or so higher than the Local mom and pop shop that includes a set up and intonation, free adjustments when needed, and customer service that goes farther than a piece of paper from the manufacturer.
When its an hour before your gig. and your amp shoots sparks like a welder on crack.... will the chain store loan you, or rent you an amp to get through the gig? Highly doubtful. They will hand you the address of the manufacturer if your lucky and tell you to ship it back to them. Its their problem, not the stores.
The biggest reason these mom and pop stores have such a limited inventory is because they arent walmart. If the client base would start patronizing these small stores you would see the price go down, the inventory more consumer freindly,
and more lines of equipment coming in. Most places if they dont have what you want, It's at the most a week away. sometimes less.
It's a vicious circle guys. I understand the I want it and I want it now. I suffer that too at times. But if its something you can wait a few days for. Its worth the extra few bucks. You will also find that once you build a relationship with most small stores the price goes down. The service goes up, and the staff dont change as often as the stop lights at the corner
PLEASE. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUITAR SHOP.