Re: What would you do?
A couple of years ago, I was looking at several different Winstons. The shop contacted Winston who shipped out a demo (the shop had the other two in stock). Not sure if Sage does something similar but if so but it might be way to cast the rod without the shop being stuck with a rod they don't want. If you like the rod, the shop can have one drop-shipped directly from Sage.
Conversely, you could ask when the next time the Sage rep will be in the area and have the shop ask him to bring one (the Winston rep actually picked up the rod I tested but did not buy).
Just my two cents. Good luck.