Hal, I agree with you completely, but let's be realistic, we live in America, land of the free, and it will be a cold day in you-know-where when electrical suplies are not sold in retail stores.
Most wholesalers will sell all their products to homeowners and other non-professionals, as they are motivated by the high profit cash sales. Believe me, I know first hand from working at this large distributor.
As Bob said they apparently aren't getting permits in our area (southern New England). I have read the fine print in their flyers which include license numbers, but I think this is for the AC systems and doors/windows.
"Home Desperate" sounds good, as they seem to be desperate for customers, since they still have a ton of competition out there. Lowes is giving them a good butt kicking too.