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Sometimes you have to pay full price. Oh well. :) These are the big distributors that supply and keep thousands of parts on stock!

Distributor Search Engines If you know your part number, go here and search more than a dozen popular distributors at once! It's on my toolbar right next to Digikey and Google A new type of engine where you actually type in the description. Has photos, but still in development!

Smaller shops

saelig A small company with USB, USB-on-the-go, Ethernet, and RFID ICs, but also wireless modules, and test-gear like bargain LCD scopes, dataloggers and spectrum analyzers. I've bought stuff from them and they always seem to stock interesting things.

Sparkfun caries all sorts of neat stuff. They also have a hobbyist PC board service.

Jameco Good selection, no minimum order, reasonable prices and very good service. Good place to find old-school TTL, power supplies, tools and robot parts.

Elexp I love this site. Its a bit old-skool but they stock pretty much everything for hobbyists and very good prices.

FuturLec Man, I have no idea who these guys are, but they sell some really awesome chips for really cheap! (Unfortunately, they may never ship to you, I've had some bad experiences and so have others! Caveat emptor…)

Russ says: I have used quite a bit, shipping sometimes slow, and not cheap, but shipping is disclosed before the buy and I have always gotten everything I ordered. Lots of selection, cheap 1 % resistors, lots of selection on PIC's and Op amps to mention only a few.
Chris says: I had a really bad experience using futurlec. I made an order on their website (everything was indicated as "in-stock") which totaled around $800. I heard nothing from them for over a week, and the status page indicated that my order had not yet shipped. I emailed them to ask about this and they told me they needed my 3 digit security code from the credit card. I sent this to them promptly… Again over a week passes and no update as to the shipping status. I receive another email telling me not all the parts are in stock , and they don't know when they will be. I wanted to get building as soon as possible so I told them to cancel my order (so I could order from say digi-key). It took over a month for them to finally refund my money after several emails (beware of companies that charge you before they ship). My friend also had problems with this type of issue (items that appeared to be in-stock but weren't). I would personally never order from them again. Also you can expect a week turn around time for your emails to them. My 2 cents.
Martin says: I had a great experience with them… I live in Canada so I have relatively few inexpensive means of attaining parts for my projects. I am working on my own MP3 player built around the STA013/CS4340 combo, and I ordered a pair of each, for $6.90 and $2.40 respectively, as compared to $17.14 and $5.16 from Digikey. Since it was such a great price, I also got an assortment of diodes, IC sockets, some 74xx logic, some prototyping boards and a pair of SSOP adapters, and 100 assorted LEDs. Shipping included, it came to only $55.80. Took 3 weeks to ship, though, and came straight out of Thailand :) Apparently Futurlec is Australian, and they ship from Thailand. I would buy from them again. I mean, the thing is that just the STA/CS parts were less 66% and 50% cheaper, so even if they lost 1 order, I could buy from Digikey any still have not lost all that much money.
Blankname says: I have also a good experience. At first I had troubles because I don't have credit card, but I contacted them and I paid with paypal. I took less than two weeks to arrive, very well packed. They don't give you a proper tracking number using the cheap shipping (4-10$ depending the order amount), but they give you the "receipt number", you can use it to track your packet using thailand post. They also don't have minimal order. They are Australian, with some offices in certain countries, and they send from his warehouse in Thailand. The bad thing for me is that they doesn't have some infrarred sensors I need (CNY70, TSOP17xx), but for ICs, diodes, resistors, some hardware (breadboars…) are good&cheap. If you buy, check the value packs, a lot of mixed value components (resistors, transistors, capacitors) at very cheap price.

Bigger shops

These places are massive, and stock pretty much everything!

Digikey The best in the business: gigantic collection of in-stock parts, reasonably low costs, amazing searchable website, will sell small quantities of most stuff, doesn't rip you off for shipping and (most importantly) ships your order within the hour. Yes, hour. Next day really means next day. Get their catalog & cuddle it before you go to bed…they're more dependable than your boyfriend ever will be.

Mouser Second only to DigiKey, Mouser is a hot-shot distributor with often-cheaper prices and if you place a large order they'll often upgrade your shipping from UPS ground to 2nd day!

Allied A so-so company, but tend to have a lot more things like switches, pots, etc. than the above.

Newark/InOne/MCM Nobody likes Newark, so use them as a last resort. They'll charge you $25 to ship a small cardboard box by UPS ground. Grrr. Their range is amazing but so are their prices. When I first saw them I thought I was dealing with a different currency.

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