Not all people go in, for healthy looking fish. They go in, and see a sick fish, and take it home to give it a better chance of survival. If it were not for the fact the white dragonscale CT male with black fins, was not so expensive I would have gotten him!!
Also note great signs of a healthy fish: If in a tank, no other fish is dead or sick. Lethargy being a sign of illness or stress that can lead to illness. I've boycotted many-a-store because of seeing such things, including improper "space saving" sororities x.x
Most of mine came from Petco. I have bought from breeders but not too often since the shipping costs more than the fish! So far I have found the Petco fish to be pretty healthy, though I have rescued a few in bad shape, not all have lived.
There is a LFS near me now and they have some beautiful bettas, not as much variety as Petco but really nice and well cared for. Might buy one of those someday.
I used to get canadian bred fish and imports from a lady in Ontario (shipping sucks worse in Canada than it ever will in the USA...) then I also bought fish from BettaFX, and also Logisticsguy.... Other than that, my HMs and DeTs came from Petsmart. I avoided PJ's Pets which is now Petland, who I still avoid. I may or may not give Aquarium Central another chance to redeem their sorry arses. I am a stickler for proper care, especially in stores wanting business. Dead fish does not equal profit.
i won't buy from my local PetSmart ever again. :I while the tanks were good looking, their bettas were not. and the gal my friend bought me on Valentine's day, died two days later. a few years back, the same thing happened at the same store. the betta my friend bought me died that night.
now, i buy from a store down here called Pet Lover's. i've never had a betta die quick from them. some of mine are also bettas i adopted from friends, and i have one i bought from a breeder on Aquabid.
Of the bettas I have 4 came from PSmart because I work there. Two of those I bought because I fell in love with their personalities. Two I bought because they were in need of special attention. One of those I just got yesterday and I expect I'll lose him, but at least I feel good about trying. Then my 5th betta was a Wal-Mart rescue, who had SBD.
At this point (after educating myself somewhat in betta rescuing), I wouldn't look to buy a healthy betta. I would much rather try to save a sick betta than leave them on the shelf to die.
All my fish have come from an independent store near my college, since I prefer it over the chains. Now that I'm home for the summer I'll probably be buying a betta from PetCo since they seem better cared for & have more variety than the PetSmart near my house, even though it's further away. I wish I could devote myself to rehabbing sick fish, but I don't have the resources.
Petco. My local one specializes in fish so they keep a wider variety of stock in addition to just carrying more. They also keep their cups really clean and feed the smaller mouthed fish/babies crushed up regular pellets or baby pellets. I am impressed with the level of care they have there.
Our Petsmart on the other hand...sad. The only time I leave there with something in a cup it's a Marimo ball.