Tips on dealing with audio dealers

Where I live we don't have stereo stores that handle high end audio equipment. So, I need some guidance. Can I order a preamp from an audio store and have it shipped to me? I know Mcintosh won't let you do that. Does Audio Research? How about prices? Are they set in stone or negotiable? I don't have a dealer and have never dealt with one so can some of you guys suggest a good one? I am considering the REF6 but for a good price I would consider a 5SE. I have heard there are a number of 5SE's for sale but I haven't run into any yet. Any advice you guys can give me would be helpful and much appreciated.
John Iconomou @ Audio Salon in Coral Gables FL. is one of the classiest dealers I've ever encountered.  He carries ARC and many other fine lines and often has used inventory since he also takes trades!
If its ten Grand , mark up can be 60% depending on the company , """BUT""  Do not forget service in which the dealer should !  but not always provide . If you buy online you could get Fucked . Its happen to me . Like all the other listings suggest a relation with local dealer could be best option . Problems occur  you can walk in confront them . Please be care full, use credit card for a deposit ! get warranties and delivery time in Writing! And be ready for the Mail box all full up recording . You could luck out

You've made some great points but they need a bit of honing and expansion.

"A home builder type boutique type of shop doesn't make much profit but a small to medium sized business even with low volumes but sells world wide can have a huge markup in their products." (Not sure what you mean after the "but....")

In the USA all retailers have to be offered the same cost price as a rule by Federal law. For most brands there is a MSRP sometimes called list price. Most dealers, even shopping cart dealers, advertise or advise you of list price. "Program" or "demo" gear that is usually supposed to be on display maybe, depending on the manufacturer, have an additional discount or incentive. This latter gear might be on sale once a year if mass market big box stuff or more frequently for some of the so-called high-end brands you mention. Therefore you are more apt to get a discount from a dealer on a demo product than a new one. The good thing about demo electronics is you know it works. Anything mechanical (CD player, TT, cartridge, etc.) a good dealer can consult their records or have some other policy about when it came in. Also, many DACs and so on change as often as Moore's Law with computers so unless they are built to be updatable by firmware or changing chips they have a limited service life, as a rule, since they become obsolete.

As a rule, the biggest markups on equipment are realized by those who import or manufacture equipment and then sell it direct or through the internet to the retail customer. Some of the most esoteric, exclusive and expensive gear on the market therefore has perhaps an extra 20%+ markup since the consumer is buying at MSRP or some "discount" off that from the importer-retailer. But the boutique retailer who carries the same line and services your account does not get that ~20% extra. Sometimes the importer-retailer are part of a "software" company in which case equipment might be a loss leader for them. They make money from the servicing dealer who has to buy at dealer cost and does not get that extra %. In other cases the importer keeps that brand in their own few stores under the guise of exclusivity. You're also looking at the extra markup here. Given the strength of the $ right now this makes $ and sense for the US importer. I looked at one line in the overseas country they are manufactured in. They have one retailer only and it is owned by the manufacturer - the company store!

One might ask the importer-retailer if they have a separate company set up for importing from the retail outlet. In that case their captive retailer maybe bound by the same cost price as the independent dealer buying from them. In either case, consider they might be able to knock the ~20% off. Just ask. Don't be surprised if they hang up, troublemaker!

Finally there are foreign manufacturers who get compensated by their governments for any "losses" they occur selling to the USA or are otherwise incentivized to sell here.

I could go on. Comparisons to other markets/commodities could be made.  

"One thing for sure is that don't be afraid to call around to get pricing information and go ahead and ask about discounts up front. If you are sure you want to purchase that product, then tell them that you are a serious buyer and not just window shopping (wasting their time)."

This may work for expensive mass-market gear like some of the brands you mentioned and more. If you see a review in one of the print magazines or go online see how many dealer they have and start calling. True custom-made or small distribution gear the retailer either has a territory thus knowing all the other dealers - or should know them. Word does get around. Ask the dealer if they have pre-owned, refurbished, or demo equipment. They just may.

"Keep in mind that people need to earn a living as well so in all sense, be fair."

I just had a great experience with an audio dealer. I too live far from any audio store. I found a listing online for a NAD 356bee amplifier.. which was something I was looking to use for my home theater & as a backup to drive my Maggie's if my Prima Luna ever needs a break. Anyway, Michael Burton from Audiotronics in Norwalk Connecticut was superb. They're a boutique stereo store deal in McIntosh etc...Gave me a great deal. Fast shipping, great communication. Treated me like I was buying a $20,000 piece of equipment when I spending a few hundred.
I must also highly recommend Audio Classics. Last month I bought a previously owned Mac preamp. They call it grade B1 but you'd never know it was anything except new. It can't be more than a year old because it's a C52, And it was a deal that I couldn't refuse... I gotta go there sometime!