Re: What is important to you when buying gear?
One of the most important factors to me is being able to buy it locally. This enables me to not only support the local business, but also see and feel what I'm buying. It helps that as a new fly fisher I can also get advice in the local shop.
Price is a major consideration as well, of course.
With bigger items (rods, reels, waders), internet reviews come into play. Visual appearance doesn't matter here.
With smaller items (flies, fly tying supplies, fly boxes), it is all about how it looks.