Don't jump to the conclusion that big "machine marts" will give you anything like the best deal. If at all possible, try to get recommendations from people you know and trust. Give that company a ring and ask what machine they offer, and what price they are offering. In any case, ring around. Small dealers may offer good prices on sound machines. They will have an arrangement with a good manufacturer at a sound price and will sell quite a lot. If they set up a deal with dubious supplier - they wouldn't sell many machines, as most of their customers know the business, so they wouldn't get the volume discounts to undercut in price the good machines by much and they would annoy people who could be long-term customers and put business their way.
Many compressors are made in Italy.
Once I was enquiring for a friend and I was offered two different machines for the same price. One had a V-twin pump, which is more expensive to make than a side-by-side twin cylinder pump, but came on a 50litre air tank. The other machine at the same price had a side-by-side twin cylinder pump but had a 100litre air tank. Either would be a good machine. You take your pick. The price was significantly lower than anything from a machine mart and one way they did it (cut costs) was to have the machine consigned directly from the makers to you. No reason to be precious about it. They get their slice of money, the manufacturer gets a clear order from an established wholesaler who pays and you get advice you trust and a low price. And the dealer gets your business for lots of little things, like filters, air tools and so on.
(Richard Smith, June 2005)