Welcome to the forum, as a newbie I think you will find it to be an invaluable resource, at least, I know I have!
As for the equipment, you just need to give it a look, if the quality looks good, it's just a matter of running the numbers and doing some price comparisons. Anything local that allows you to avoid shipping charges should be a huge advantage. Your other big decision will be on "what" equipment. I decided to keep it standard and went with all 8 frame mediums. The all mediums route is becoming somewhat more common....However, like everything in beekeeping, you will find that opinions vary greatly.
As for number of hives, I strongly suggest at least two. This allows you a number of advantages. As a newbie, it gives you something to compare and contrast. It also gives you the potential to rob Peter to pay Paul if necessary. For example, if one hive goes queenless, you can borrow a frame with 1-3 day old eggs from your other hive to give them the opportunity to make a new queen. Lastly, should you lose a hive, you're not out of the game.
Best of luck to you and your bees. From one newbie to another, one word of warning, this Beek thing is absolutely addictive! ENJOY!