I have purchased many "Bare Drive" packages from local stores and never had any back experience. I look for and purchase "drive only" deals, whenever possible. I don't need pretty packaging that goes in trash, useless 40 pin cables (since i have ATA100 hard drives/80 pin cables), extra screws and or second copy of same software that I already have.
Also the software packaged is usually Lite Edition, Express or tied to a specific drive like Nero usually is.
I suggest if you are first time buyer and new to this kind of stuff then get a Retail Package, specially if you require manufacturar support and/or have a good mail-in-rebate deal.
I have enough knowlege of computers to solve my own problems so I don't really need manufacturar support.
I recently purchased 1 retail burner because it had mail-in-rebate offer and two "drive only" DVD-ROMs that were each $20 cheaper than retail packages. So I saved $40 and everything is just working perfect.
You must also consider the quality of product that you are buying, regardless of retail or OEM (bare drive, drive only, etc.). As long as quality of the product is good, packaging is of no importance (in most cases).
I only buy "bare drives" from retail pacakages that have received good reviews by CDRLabs.com