I highly recommend the trade page on www.thebabywearer.com! I've gotten a few "steals" over there. Plus, they have great reviews with retail prices customers paid for them. There's also a ISO (In Search Of) page where you could list what you're looking for.
Someone is bound to have a MT for less than retail or ebay auction!
Good luck feel free to PM with any questions.
Hey, I just saw a Kozy for sale for $35, which is an AWESOME price (paid $80 for mine). And IMO, Kozys are the gold standard for mei tais. If you want to know who's selling it, let me know. (I'd post it, but then someone else might snap it up )
The Cat's Meow has inexpensive mei tais and good reviews on The Babywearer, but I have not tried one personally. I agree with trying the FSOT board on The Babywearer; I bought a new one for less than $30 when a vendor announced her clearance sale.
I second rosybaby...I made one out of scrap fabric one evening. Worked great! I made an infant-sized one, and now that DS is 9 months old, he's a little too big for it, but enjoys being carried in it regardless.
I agree with making one. I made mine. The stitching is kind of wonky, as I was in a desperate hurry. (needed it the next morning) But, it is wonderful. It cost me a total of seven dollars and two hours of work.
I used Microfiber from WalMart for 2.49 a yard. (you need two yards) and a pretty fabric for $1. a yard. I used less than half a yard of that.
If you want, we will post the sites to the free patterns and directions.