[quote:3c1072f99d]...and then order the ones you like best from http://www.studiospares.com or http://www.thomann.de for about 60% of the price [/quote:3c1072f99d]
...and decimate your local retail sector so that you can't buy a set of strings before a gig and have to get a courier to bring them over from Germany. The reason I try to buy locally is because shops such as Bairds offer a service which shops like Thomann are unlikely to be able to match. If you try to get a good relationship with a retailer, you'll find them to be more sympathetic when it comes to returns etc. etc.
Well I have never had any problems getting a decent cash price from any of them. You'll never get all the way down, but then you don't need to pay postage, you get to audition the equipment before buying it and then you have a local point of contact to deal with any problems that may arise rather than have to deal with couriers and returns.
To be honest, I've been lucky in that I've never had to buy anything much locally, since I always had a source to get the stuff much cheaper, even if it was the likes of Thomann, I've never had a problem with them. Mind you, it's much easier now that I live in Germany. Though if your ordering enough stuff (I think it's over 30 quid with Thomann) it's free delivery.
I've always been able to get stuff from the States, and thus save a fortune, I bought a Musicman Stingrayy HH last week for a 1000 euros. I'd never have got this sort of price anywhere locally, plus, when I order something like a new guitar or whatever, I always make sure to get a pile of strings thrown in, all for feck all.
Believe it or not, I bought my old PA in America too, shipped it home and still saved money on the price of it in NI.
But anyway, like I said, I've just been lucky in that regard.