I'm just old enough to remember the old way, no internet retail model.
I am absolutely not sure it was better. Worse, actually.
There were salesmen who were trained in how to sell the product store wanted to move. They were knowledgeable enough to talk about their product, but couldn't be relied upon to give an honest advice.
There also were (in small shops mainly) people who were passionate about the product they sold, and very knowledgeable. Their advice could be often trusted, if opinionated. Half of them had no people skills and the other half had no business skill.
An honest, knowledgeable store salesman with integrity, technical and business savvy and people skills was perhaps easier to find than today, but also - in my opinion - a rarity.
Getting honest user reviews and price comparisons was much more difficult and much less instantaneous.
I think the current model - while it has it's own issues - works better in the end for the user.