Yep. Hey, I ride boards hand-shaped by local guys in NJ. I also ride Firewires, and I happen to like them a lot. I've ridden Coils before, and i wasn't a fan of the model I rode. I ride what I like, period, and I don't give two sh**ts if it's made by Mr. Loc'ed-out down the street guy or from Nev Hyman's company manufactured in Thai sweatshop. I been doing this here surfing thing since 1988 and been through too many boards. If something feels good under the feet and lasts THREE TIMES AS LONG, sign me the F up. Call me a trendy a-hole, etc.
AMEN! You wrote my response for me. That being said..
I buy a shape, or something that I feel will work for me and be fun. If I feel like I can get it from my local guy, I will. But you can't just point out a board to your local guy and say "make me this". Well, you can, but it won't be exact without obtaining exact dims from the original shaper. If it's not exact, then it's not the same board.
I own local stuff, firewires, lost..etc.. and honestly the quality of local stuff is BY FAR superior to the others, but it's not going to stop me from buying other stuff. Everything has pro's and con's.
My advice... don't take anyones advice period. Try everything you can possibly get your hands on.. and figure out what puts the biggest smile on your face .... no matter what it ends up being.