Here in the Fort Lauderdale area we tend to shop selectively. Based on comparative prices, sales, product offerings, and the knowledge of employees in those areas where we lack the information ourselves.
We generally favor the Home Depot when we want flowering decorative plants from the garden shop. Better selection than Lowe's, and they've got a salesperson who's very knowledgable, whom we've gotten to know.
On the other hand, neither of the chains' garden shops usually have anything in the way of herbs, that my husband grows for his cooking. For those he visits a local independent nursery. Or sometimes, believe it or not, a Publix supermarket.
For small hardware items, and nuts, bolts & washers, and key making, stuff like that, I go to a classic old-fashioned hardware store, family owned. In fact, almost everyone who works there is related. Sometimes if I'm passing by I'll just drop inside to stroll around its narrow aisles. A hardware store to me is like a supermarket is to my husband, or a Williams-Sonoma kitchen store.
Maybe I'll find something to buy while looking, maybe not. And if I go in for something specific they'll know exactly where it is, take me right to it. Not just say: "Those are in aisle 8."
For small plumbing supplies that I can use around the house myself, without a plumber, I go to a local plumbing supply place. It caters to professional plumbers and contractors, but also sells to the public. That's where I went when I was installing our new dishwasher, and needed a special adapter to accommodate the older plumbing fittings in our kitchen.
Finally, for larger appliances like that dishwasher I don't use the big box stores. Again, it's a local family-owned store, with 3 generations sometimes there at once. The grandfather/founder usually just presides occasionally now, so he & I will swap Army service stories while his son and grandson are working to find just the model I want, ordering it if necessary (as this dishwasher was).
Meanwhile the daughter-in-law is working on the books and answering the phone, and looking up on-hand inventory to answer questions. It's all just so familiar and American to me. And BTW, I always get as good a price as the big-box chains, and sometimes better. Their managers usually can't deviate from the price the corporation has set, whereas a private store is typically willing & able to negotiate.