Larry Clinton At Frankfort, (Central) Indiana
I probably have over a dozen Iron plane and a few woodies. I did not pay over $35 for any of the irons. None of mine are Bedrocks, and I did buy a few that really had bad nick's in the blade which would have been hard to remove by hand but I have an old (but accurate) Boyer Schulz surface grinder.
Almost all the iron planes are old Stanley's, and work quite well after some sharpening and tuning. My largest is a number 7, and have #1's and most in between as well as some oddballs. I doubt the planes at the woodworking stores are any better, if as good as a well tuned old Stanley. As others have said look around flea markets and yard sales as well as Ebay. You will be pleasantly surprised at the quantity and quality available at very low prices.
Just took a quick peek at Ebay, there are several #7 Stanley's up for sale, with starting bids at $25 ~$30, one I noticed at less than $75 at a buy it now including shipping. As long as the plane body is not cracked most can be tuned with an hours work and will work well. In my experience even a new plane, other than Veritas and Lee Nielsen, will require some tuning to work well, others here are much more experienced with this subject so take my opinions for what they are worth. You may also pose this question on the hand tool forum as they may have some very good advice.