One benefit of shopping local was service and the ability to see nice big samples that they would let us take home and return. The samples were always a nice large size, so you could get a good feel for the flooring in your space. Downside? Price. The prices locally were always far larger than online for similar woods (and in some case, the same wood).
Once we were more seriously shopping it helped that Dana did a "how are they holding up" type post about her floors. It was good to be able to go read about how she felt about the floors after living with them for a while, and honestly it sold us on BuildDirect even more.
Long story short, after looking at the samples, considering colors, and giving them all a "scratch and dent" test, and considering pros/cons of hardwood vs engineered, we opted for this maple coffee flooring from BuildDirect.
I never actually took any pictures of the sample we ended up choosing but did snap this pic once night after the flooring was here, acclimating and we were still prepping the surface:
If you look at the link to the flooring, you can also see beautiful variation in it, even though the overall color is quite dark.
Next up, install!