mksmth: I have purchased my trees online these past few years, and yes, what you are seeing appears to be the new normal. That is why I am trying to graft my of my trees, because I don’t have that kind of money.
It seems to be the smaller orchards are the ones who still have decent prices. Kuffel Creek has $10 benchgrafts. Schlabach’s and White Oak have lower prices, but are mail-order only. Turkey Creek has $16 trees. Century Farm Orchards has $20 trees, which is a bit cheaper, and the trees are very nice. Also, check the sales. Ison’s has trees for $24 bucks, but is running a 20% off sale, so they’re a bit less than $20 right now. Vaughn Nursery is usually a bit cheaper, but I can’t find the prices on the website right now.
I hope that helps. There are doubtless some others which I am not thinking of. Bottom line, I think getting a tree less than $20 nowadays is doing well. Benchgrafts are cheaper, if you have the time to wait.
Good luck to you.