rismoney: these days, with specialty collections now occupying my time rather than the former world-wide collection, most of my dealings are with dealers, or the APS Stampstore. I check eBay
occasionally, but find it hard to navigate for what I'm looking for. When I do find an item on eBay
, more often than not, it is overpriced, damaged, or both. So, I don't buy on eBay
. Haven't bothered with Hip or DelCampe.
My strong preference is to deal (pun not intended!) with dealers who have stock to be viewed on their websites. I do business, however, with a couple of dealers who have little, if anything, on their web sites. So, yes, I do send occasional want lists. Both of these dealers do have turnover in their stock, with new purchases. I've dealt with one for many years; both by mail as well as at shows. I recall returning only one item, and got a prompt refund.
The way to "draw stamps out from the underworld" is to simply ask, at least in my experience. Turn around times are generally OK. And I get discounts when I remember to ask for them. After all, they need to make money and I'm usually not spending a ton of money since my specialty collections already are extensive.
Regarding your suggested answer; "it depends;" I'll say this: "depends on what you collect." It seems like dealers in US material are a dime a dozen. Finding high quality dealers for Portugal & colonies, or Poland, is much harder.