I like having access to discounted materials, but truely value the advise (and contractor's price) I get from my specialty paint store, expertise from an professional glazier, the selection and cutomiztion at tile or carpet outlets, and the odds and ends and advise from old hardware stores. I make a point of patronizing and supporting superior service even if it costs just a little more. For insulation, ladders, tools and commodity items, the big box is where to go. But for major projects, I like to bid the materials sheet (lumber, roofing, windows, plumbing, electrical, finishing trim, accessories). I get prices similar, or lower than the big boxes but I get great service, delivery, and people who know my name and back their products. Unfortunately more and more of my specialty suppliers are disappearing all the time.