If at all possible, it is much better for the members of a community to shop at locally-owned businesses, as it helps keep small shop owners from going under against big box stores and it helps to keep your money in your own community. Living in a big city such as L.A. makes it hard sometimes, but I found a great website called Delocator that enables you to search by zip code for locally-owned businesses near you. From the site:
The mission of Delocator.net is to assist the public in finding and supporting independently owned businesses. The Delocator.net database is created by public participants. Your input and collaboration is essential in creating an online resource for cafÃ© goers, bookstore shoppers, and movie buffs who wish to invest in locally owned businesses. Use Delocator.net to find a cafÃ©, bookstore, or movie theatre that is not owned by a public corporation. By comparison of quantity and user-created information, Delocator.net users will be able to make an informed decision about spending a buck (or eight) on a cup of joe, a new book, or an afternoon at the movies.
Unfortunately, there are some corporate chains that made it in to the list, but that is what happens with a community-driven site. But check it out to see if it can help you find a small locally-owned business near you that you can support! – Delocator