It seems to me that lots MORE ppl are interested in puppetry these days... or it could be that my brain is just open to puppets. In either case, I've been approached by a couple of ppl regarding where can they GET puppets.
There are plenty of puppets out there for purchase. Are you looking for a "Muppet" style made of foam and fleece, operated by hand (mouth) and rod (arms)? That's what most ppl think of when they think of "puppets. But the older type of hand puppet is a "Punch & Judy" type of puppet -- like the ones seen on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood -- where your fingers operate the arms and head (no mouth movement). There is also the "sock" style puppets -- another kind of hand puppet where your hand moves the mouth
I make my puppets bc buying them can be expensive. Puppets are labor intensive and the demand for puppets is small. There are plenty of cool stuffed-animal type puppets, too. I'd also recommend looking in kids stores, but you can find these online, too.
Also, you get what you pay for. If you are looking for a puppet to do shows with, you probably want the puppet to be easy to hang onto and manipulate. Mass produced puppets may be cheaper, but they may also not give you the range of motion you want. The joints can be overstuffed and/or stiff, which means you have to tense your muscles to make it move. This kind of repetitive stress on your own joints can lead to injuries. I've noticed that some mass produced puppets you can buy for cheap are hard to hold, have joints that are difficult to move, break easily and are HEAVY. A 3 min scene is a long time if you're holding something out away from your body. Professional puppets are easy to hold, easy to manipulate, durable, and lightweight so that you can hold them for extended periods of time.
Here are some places to find puppets online:
* FAO Schwartz Whatnots! -- Disney-Muppets have teamed with FAO to give you Whatnots! Muppet Extras you can customize and buy for $129.99
* Russ Walko -- Russ sells this basic rodded arm, flexible rubber palate puppet for $200.
* Furry Puppet Studio
* Thistledown Puppets
* Rick Lyon
* Puppet Project -- make your own puppet!!
Hope this helps.