Ohio Vinylohiles, and other who love analog fronts

I have been reading everything I can get my hands or mouse on about analog front ends. At this point I have a feel for they types of tables that I am looking for, but have limited time to listen as Cleveland is a bit thin in analog HiFi options.

I am pushing my budget to the limit with a $1000 to spend, but I do have some extra stuff to work with as far as trades or sales go.

I have my amp and speakers set and have a modest digital front end that will work till I decide between cd, pc, or tt.

Based on the limited time I have spent with vinyl spinning, I feel pretty strong that this is the road I will continue down into the future.

That said, Everything except my speakers and amplifiers are up for reconsideration. I have been looking at several options (based on reading), but would love to hear your comparisons or better yet, stop buy for some listening.

So far I am leaning toward a VPI JR. or Scout, A Nottingham Horizon, A SOTA Sapphire, J.A. Mitchel, Clear Audio Concept (I think), A oracle Alexandria or Delphi. These are what seem to be the safe investment for trial and error and decks that seem to hold their value.

On the other hand I there is a local Pro-Ject Debut III that has everything needed to get spinning. Just not sure I can live with this for long enough to make the effort worth while.

Also have been looking for a Empire 208 (298) as well.

If I did not say it before, I am now lost. Anyone have suggestions based on their personal journey or are their owners of any of these tables within driving distance of Cleveland that might let me stop by for a listen?
Manitunc, both great tables. I see you all ready have removed the Prelude arm I am assuming was on the Alex. at one time, as I know those do have issues at times. the arm on there now is a great arm I am told. Also the Sotas that are bought, that are older versions, many of which you find for sale under $1,000, can have suspension or bearing problems, etc.., that can be expensive to fix. They are both built well and great tables, and been around a long time. My point was you need to be cautious on what you are buying used on certain tables.
Might want to try play it again sam in lakewood ohio.
His prices are not the best but theres lots of vintage to new stuff to look at,like a walk down memory lane.
I tried there, but they did not have anything that represented a great table or good value. Seemed like slim pickins. Did have a empire 209, but it was gone on layaway. Did not seem to have a willingness to negotiate, had a nice thorens, but it was way overpriced.
Just be prepared that you will end up spending 5X of your budget by the time you settle in so get the best you can find for each component as you go.
I find something I like and enjoy the music. I play a little, but can't justify the gear at 5x the price.

Will be happy once i settle.