Okay ... pardon me for butting in but I couldn't resist getting more info about Brooks saddles. The responses to the original post make it sound like this is the saddle to end all saddles. And, I'll admit, I've never heard anything but good things about Brooks saddles. BUT ... once I get up to about 35-40 miles for a ride, my perineum begins to hurt a lot on the stock Bontrager saddle that came on my Trek. I've used chamois butter and that seems to help some (which leads me to believe part of the problem is chafing) but I've been shopping around for a saddle that has a cut-out to supposedly relieve that discomfort.
Some of the Brooks saddles I've looked at have that cut-out. For those without the cut-out, is it just that the leather eventually "deforms" to fit your body during the break-in period? Seems hard to believe but it's also hard to ignore the passion people seem to have for those saddles. Does it make sense to pay a little more to get a Brooks with a cut-out or just go with the regular style? I'm confused and don't want to drop $100+ on a saddle that doesn't agree with me. From a price perspective, it's pretty competitive with some of the (reportedly) better saddles I see at REI and most LBSs so that's not an issue.
When people ask me about the comfort of my Brooks, I always tell them that it's not a comfortable saddle in a "Lazy Boy" sorta' way. You're not going to get on it and say "Wow! This saddle feels incredible!". It's just a tool that'll allow one to cover many miles without discomfort. As mentioned, it conforms to your body and just allows you to get on with your business of riding.
If you have a sensitive perineal area, don't consider anything but a saddle with cutout. I've had issues down there and found that I actually prefer women's models of plastic saddles over the men's, as women's models have a more generous cutout. So, it's not surprising that the B17 Imperial worked so well, for me.
What caused me to give up on plastic saddles is that the padding breaks down/compresses so quickly. When doing long mileages, sitting on a hard piece of plastic is the last thing I want. The Brooks just relaxes at pressure points and allows me to keep on going. Whereas, plastic saddles just feel like I'm sitting in the bleachers at a high school football game.
As for what your LBS offers, so many are closed minded toward the high mileage, touristy types. We're anomolies. Therefore, the Brooks saddle, and many other peculiarities about us, remain unknown to them. My LBS raves about the Fiziks they carry. I tried a couple. Sitting on a formed piece of plastic isn't very accommodating to my rearend. The Brooks is willing to accommodate, by conforming. When I asked about a Long Haul Trucker, they responded with "Why?". When I inquired about why they don't stock a single Brooks, they laughed. Anyway, those guys pound out 30 or 40 miles and talk about their pace. Try and get them to ride that same bike and saddle 500+ miles in a week. Suddenly, they won't be raving about their setup; they'll be questioning it. So, I choose to let the locals go on with their cycling interests and me with mine. I'll just take up my inquiries with like-minded riders like the ones that hangout here.
I broke in mine using neatsfoot oil, per Sheldon Brown. This process has a huge impact on the initial suppleness of the saddle.http://sheldonbrown.com/leather.html
As mentioned, Wallingford offers an exchange program. That's what I did. Bill is an exceptionally nice guy and their business is very personable.http://www.wallbike.com/index.php