im not sure what you have done or what resources you have convenience to you, but heres how i do things...
> i use the internet since its convenient to me. I use places like Gunbroker and other gun auction/selling sites. I can do a search and see what people are asking/wishing/paying for the various toys. Will they get the wishful price? Dont know, dont care, but i get an idea on what people think they can get and what people are willing to pay. its reference price info for me. you can also see what people are asking for the "buy it now" price. If the toy is still made, then its low hanging fruit to get an idea on ABP - Averager Buying Price.
> I also talk to my LGS. I have a good/great working relationship with my LGS. This saying maybe familiar to you? "you scratch my back, and i scratch yours". So in the many years i have been buying from them, my LGS informed me that they only make < 50 bucks for a new gun sold. They can make more $$ on a used gun brought into the shop. Again, dont know if you know this but its how it works out here and with my LGS. same with USED cars. Also, if something is really hot, then guess what? you may not be able to buy one at the regular price. Buck up or shut up is in play then. MY LGS also informed me that they make more $$ on the accessories since they buy the stuff at WHOLESALE prices and many people cant buy at wholesale. . Also, my LGS buys from the Wholesalere where the wholesaler pays for shipping since shipping costs now can eat up alot of that if not more than that 50 buck profit on a gun. If i want a new made toy, then i will just let my LGS know what i want and give as much info as i can such as model number, color and any options that maybe available. With the way things are now and not many guns can be found, he's doing alot of that and adding 1 more to the list inst an big deal.
> I also try not to be in a rush for my toys. So i let him do his thing at his own pace. He is usually good about knowing what a good price is. Good meaning, reasonable and not some marked up price due to panic buying but what he could get them at "normal" times.
> he will also let me know when some customer comes in to pickup a toy they ordered online and used his shop for the transfer. But the kick is that he lets me know the customer paid more then what he could have bought it for. Some customers have more $$$ than time or patience. So that comes into play too.
> i figured out along time ago, that i was in this toy thing for the long run. So i decided to find a shop with a great staff/owner and build up a working relationship. That may mean buying something at the price they have on the sticker but for the most part, i was given some good deals too. Since most of my toys i was buying are not made anymore, he knew that. And when something came in used, that i may like, he may give me first refusal. Most of the prices he offered were reasonable in my eyes and i knew full well, he had bills to pay for a brick and mortar store. So i didnt try to knock him down on any price. Again, to me, they were reasonable.
> my 1st time bringing in 4 guns (that were not made anymore) my LGS sort of got POed. Since he thought i got NEW/New made guns. but in the end when he made 100 bucks in < 15 minutes of work, he changed his mind. I did all the work in research/finding/buying. All he did was to provide the FFL to ship the guns to so i could receive. I have brought i new made guns but what it came down to was that his suppliers didnt have any or could not get any. Also, he would not deal with some wholesalers. At one time SIG & Kimber had LGS do somethign like a batch buy of 10K worth of various toys. The OEM would bundle up not to hot sellers with hot sellers, so in the end my LGS got burned with having some toys that sat on the shelf. And to make it worse, they lowered the price on some of them the next year. for me i, i was able to get it without him having to buy 10K+ worth of toys.
> I was also selfish from my point of view. Due to many Brick and Mortar stores closing, i liked the convenience of having one close buy and using his FFL to ship/receive my toys. I find that its much nicer to be able to do the touchy-feely type of thing when it comes to dropping 500+ bucks on a toy. Then to do a order and once i have it not liking it. Some places will take it back but for a cost/fee.