Now your talking my department here as I own and run a small engine repair shop There are a lot of lesser name brands that are just as good as the Honda, and most have what is known as a Honda Clone engine. They are basically a chineese knock off that are virtually identical to a real Honda. I have had a couple folks "in the know" tel me they are even made in the same factory as a true Honda. Most Honda parts will work on them, but it is not as simple as going to Honda dealer for the part. The will likely run you out of the store if you tell them you need a part for a clone as Honda will pull their dealership if they sell parts to fit a clone. Allpower and Champion are two that come to mind. We are a factory warranty center and I see very few in for repair, and most are just for the pull start rope being broke. No matter what brand you chose, before purchase contact the company and see where the nearest factory warranty center is. I mention this because some of the brands we warranty, we are the only one within 200 miles that will do warranty work on them, and we are in Southern California meaning we cover what, over 3 million people?
As far as the gas is concerned, first of all seeing you are in Iowa (my wife has family scattered all over Iowa) DO NOT use the cheaper, higher ethonol content gas. it may be fine for cars but anything over 10% ethonol WILL cause fuel related issues AND void your warranty. No need to run dry before storage either as long as you keep your fuel treated with a good fuel stabalizer, such as the Marine Grade Sta-bil or Star-Tron. Even when you "run it out of gas" there is still a little left in the carburetor that will more than likely cause problems during long term storage.
If you have any questions or need advice feel free to PM me.
Dedicated Stick Burner, Pitmaster @ All About The Q, facebook.com/itsallabouttheq KCBS CBJ