Here's a shorter show that I've wanted to do for a while, talking about how I've ordered games from overseas. Up until just recently that always meant Germany--albeit from a few different webshops--but last week I placed an order through a Dutch website, too. I organize most of these group buys for the Santa Clarita Boardgamers, and there's something to learn from it. The websites are getting more and more English content, but there are times you still need to keep an online translator open in another browser window. I found it intimidating at first, but now it's pretty easy.
However, now we don't order overseas so often. A poor currency exchange rate between the US$ and Euro, combined with greater domestic inventory of timely English-language editions of German games (often at discounted prices and cheap-or-free shipping) means the overseas order is more specialized. While there's no longer much reason to buy new games from the major publishers overseas, there are still some closeouts, OOPs, or untranslated games from smaller publishers that are most economically ordered from Europe.
Something I neglected to point out in the podcast is that the closeout pricelist for these European stores changes throughout the year, especially shortly after Essen. During my one trip there in 2003 I struggled to make room in my suitcase for an 11 Euro copy of Giganten. There were lots of those available at the fair. Then when I got home I watched multiple online vendors put the same game on their discount list, at about the same price. So I could've nabbed my "Essen special" just be shopping the lists from home! This opportunity doesn't always happen, but it's worth keeping your eye out for it.
One other thing about the VAT discount. Most shops give you the discount during the ordering or payment process. It might not be until the very end, though. Also, the Dutch store I've just used gave me back the VAT discount as a PayPal refund after I'd placed the full-price order (something they clearly explained upfront). And there was one time that a AllGames4You forgot to give me the discount at all, but they made good on it after an email exchange.
Adam Spielt (German)
Magnus Spiele (German)
Au Coin du Jeu (French)
Bestel een Spel (Dutch)
Le Valet d'Coeur (French Canadian)
One of my game order spreadsheets