GK, I know that you are not saying:
"Honey, pour me the f-ing cup of coffee and give me a cute smile while your doing it. I mean, it's not like you're freakin' Juan Valdez."
But it still kinda sounds like it. A little respect from both sides would make life so much easier for every one.
The shop guy knows the difference between a wannabe and someone that can catch a fish without a guide. There are plenty of them who are are guides, certified casting instructors, inovative flytyers and acomplished fishermen in their own right. Some could perhaps even show Lefty a thing or two. A customer that can show them a thing or two makes their day.
I would say that for every idiot clerk (and here are more than a few) there are countless legions of jerks, bozos, hacks, "experts", braggarts, contrarians, drunks, self styled royalty, and folks that need to get a life. Oh, and it has nothing to do with rich and poor. A-hole knows no socio-economic barrier. It can be tough for even the best shop guy to weave his way in and out of these black holes disguised as people. Thank goodnes there are so many really good customers, you almost forget the 1 in a thousand that can really sour ones day. But that's life, and a good shop employee has to laugh it off so he can get back to what he really enjoys. Sharing his passion for flyfishing. He's not in it for the bucks. So please be kind.
And one more thing, wally world, sportsmart and dick's are hardly competition. Cabelas, Orvis and BassPro's prices are the same as the small flyshop's so if the service is better, they win. That could be said for any competing flyshop.
Pescaphile, in your case, not having a local flyshop would be the least of my concerns.