Many thanks to all (a goodly number!) who responded to my query about buying binos. I'm sending this message to the entire group, since others might be interested in the responses I received for their own future reference.
In my original email I neglected to mention that I wasn't buying a pair for myself, but rather for a beginning birder (yeah, I procrastinated on my Christmas shopping).
There was a consensus from the respondents that at present there is no place to find a good selection of binos in SD County south of the Miramar area. There is a small selection of lower priced ones (up to $495) at Wild Birds Unlimited at 10549 Scripps Poway Pkwy, just east of I-15. I bought a pair of Opticron "Oregon" 8x32 binos there for $155, which seemed to be quite sharp, serviceable, and light weight for a beginning birder, a good buy at that price range. Another local place that people suggested to try that has a limited selection was REI just off of I-52.
For a larger selection, Oceanside Photo and Telescope was frequently mentioned as perhaps being the best place within the county, albeit not very centrally located.
The store most endorsed (by several people) for those wanting a larger selection and perhaps higher upscale models (both price and quality) was Optics4Birding in Irvine, but I didn't feel like driving that far. And if there's no rush, of course there is the huge selection at SD Bird Festival. And then there's always Amazon.
Hope this info might be useful to others.