Here in the SF Bay Area we have pretty good brand selections and pricing from local stores. For riding gear, generally the convenience of local stores outweighs the savings from online retailers for me.
In the beginning I didn’t know one brand from another so I shopped by price point. However, after wearing my gear for a while I ended up wanting to, and did, upgrade for better protection and better style. Just like upgrading to newer/better/bigger bikes, gear upgrade is a natural progression for a rider. You’d figure out what you need and want after doing it for a while.
My Shoei RF-1000 helmet still feels snug and comfortable after 16 months of constant wearing. It’s a very nice helmet for the price.