Generally speaking getting your equipment from a local supplier is cheaper, however there are exceptions. All the local outlets in my (1 hour drive time) area a rep for a large supplier such as Dadant, Mann Lake, Bushy Mountain, or Walt Kelly. The prices reflect that in the prices are basically the catalog price plus a distributed shipping charge. I would pay more for the same equipment than the catlog list price. As a result I have gone to buying quanities that qualify for a discount to offset shipping and from regiional suppliers so that the shipping is less. The cost of getting something shipped from Bushy Mountain is twice that of having the same item shipped from Western Bee. I also go for the factory 2nds, cost less but has a few blemishes. Paint covers most of those and neither I nor the bees mind a few imperfections.
I can buy 10 medium 8 frame budget supers from Western Bee for less than I can buy 6 from Bushy Mountain when the shipping and discounts are figured in. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where I buy my equipment.
I should mention that area reps for major bee equipment manufacturers do not offer 2nds and most don't offer 8 frame equipment.
Then there's the fact that some of the equipment I use is my own design and not commercially available--that I have to make myself. The hive stands, bottom boards, slatted racks, and top entrances I make by hand and have gone through a few refinements over the years. I have decided that the best possible hive stand is the one designed for a bottomless hive as descibed in an January BC article, but even then I'm making a few minor modifications because it will assemble easier.