THE "GOOD OLE' DAYS"Explaining to the Next Generation what it was like back in the olden days as a budding guitarist.
Before we begin, let me tell you this is MY story, my thoughts, and my views, written somewhat biographical style. See, today, if you're a guitarist, the world is your oyster! You can buy almost any model you want, relatively inexpensively, and find pedals that clone more expensive ones from places like Amazon and AliExpress. We have amp modelers the size of a friggin iPad that you can use to sound like any major guitarist you want to sound like. It was not always this way. Heck, you don't even NEED "hardware" anymore, you can use an actual iPad as an amp and effects unit. It's crazy how far it's come since I started in 1995.
Guitars & Guitar Shops in the 1990's, My Experience
In the 1990's, most people had a landline phone and maybe an answering machine if they had a need for it, the internet was new to the masses, a "portable digital device" was something like a Walkman that could play cassettes or CDs, a Game Boy that could play one game at a time on cartridges in black and sewage green - and the Solidbody Electric guitars were much the same as now, but pedals were usually discreet analog things, digital effects boards were in their infancy and truly did sound like total s***, and most amplifers only had one or two channels, and came in 2 types - Solid State (Transistor) and Tube. A "computer" sat on your desk, cost about $2000, had one screen, and if you had a "laptop" it was $3000, ran 2 hours on one charge if you were lucky, and cost $5000 if you wanted color. The closest thing to an iPad was a $5000 "tablet PC" that was black and white, ran Windows 3.1, and had no digital audio processing of any kind on it.

Back then, most likely, your town did not have a "Guitar Center". We had small, local, independant shops run by local musicians usually. Where I lived, we had two: The Auburn Guitar Shoppe - run by a 7 foot tall, long haired, guitar and bass player named Mark, and Crossroads run by a overly homophobic evil twin of Conan O'Brien. The Guitar Shoppe sold all the "Cool" stuff - Gibson, Fender, they sold Kramer when that was a thing