In the mean time however check your Yellow Pages or consult your local chamber of commerce. Here in the Netherlands the regular telephone guides contain a pink part in the front that has a similar overview of local businesses.
Distributors and brokers are often not the companies to consult when you
only need a small amount of chips per kind. (See elsewhere in this directory.)
Retailers however have a very low overhead cost per sale, because you come
and pick up your order yourself at their store and you pay cash for it.
They also can charge you quite a margin, because you only buy a few pieces.
Typically their margin is 100% over the cost, so 50% of the sales price.
(Only for their average product. On very cheap things like resistors etc.
the margin is much higher of course when you buy small amounts, but you
merely pay for the sale effort. On high-end things like oscilloscopes
the margin is much lower (40%?).
Given the kind of 'profit' that a retailer can make they can afford (and
must) maintain quite a large stock of 100,000's of different items.
A retailer's stocks may be worth quite a lot of millions in sales prices.
Not recommendable to rob such a store though, because you'd have to set up
and run a similar shop for several years to sell all the inventory because
most of the stuff has quite a long shelf life and during that time a lot
of people will recognize the mechandize as being stolen.
Anyway an often forgotten function that a retailer can perform, is
ordering small amounts of parts for you from distributors. It works thus:
The retailer already regularly orders from his suppliers, so the accounting,
banking, shipping and credibility costs have already been solved, so it's
just an additional item which the distributor and the retailer have to
make no special costs for. Two problems however may arise:
When you want only a few items of a very expensive chip, the retailer may have to buy a full package and may have trouble selling the rest of them.
The retailer will normally try to buy as much of his merchandise from as few as possible distributors and you may want a product from a distributor that he is not regularly using.
As always the key solution to problems like these is communication:
Ask him what is easy to get and what isn't. You can also call up the
distributor and ask him which retailer he recomments for his products.
An alternative is using a mail-order retailer. These companies are used to
sending small packages and charging per credit card or cash on delivery (COD).
How about finding obsolete or otherwise scarce chips?
Never design products with either obsolete or scarce chips!
When you're only going to build a single product. (Usually for a hobby.)
Make sure that the parts are not scarce or make sure that you have
at least two samples of every possibly scarce item. (By the way, go
to PC fairs and buy up a lot of old, low-cost PC-boards to get a nice
stock of very cheap IC*'s...;-)
This said there are three good reasons left why one would want obsolete chips:
A last(?) production run of an old design needs to be done. Usually this involves a serious amount of chips and you can email me or contact one of the brokers on the brokers pages.
You only need a few chips to repair an old apparatus. Consider if this repair is worth about $200 and you can email me too, but otherwise give up unless you're willing to find the chip yourself somewhere in the world. This will save you about halve of our overhead costs, but will probably take you many hours, so much more than $200, when your time is valuable. So give up!
You run a museum and want some of the first processors that were ever made: The Intel D4004. We just delivered some... There seem to be more...