I'm brand new to this site, so please bear with me... I've used the search function with no luck, trying to find similar questions that have already been asked, and I've skimmed all the tips/guidelines/rules for question posting - hopefully despite my current state of sleep deprivation, I can manage to adhere to them!
Background: I've gotten into Duplo blocks for building unique and constantly evolving creations for my sugar gliders to play with. Part of owning gliders is accepting that they'll inevitably use their toys as toilets, and with building blocks that means pee is going to end up in the crevices between blocks. This necessitates completely disassembling my creations at least 1-2x a week, thoroughly washing/sanitizing all the blocks and starting over from scratch. Between that and the size of adult gliders (approx 6'' body + 5-6'' tail), I just can't commit to the tedium that would be involved in using regular Legos - Duplo blocks fit my needs infinitely better.
I've managed to amass a fairly impressive collection of Duplo blocks by scouring e-bay for good deals, but this has led to me having an unpleasant ratio of 2x2s to everything else. I'd really love to be able to pick and choose extra of certain unusually-shaped duplo blocks and extra of the smallish baseplates (2x8 and 4x8 in particular) to use for roofs and such... even moreso, I'd love to be able to buy large amounts of specific bricks (I'd settle for 2x4 but would love extra 2x6 or 2x8 blocks).
Through browsing others' questions on this site yesterday, I learned of the "pick a brick" wall at Lego stores and the possibility of even being able to get cases of one specific brick through the stores. I got so excited over the potential solution to my issues that I suffered the ordeal of going to the mall (ugh!!) and dodged annoying underfoot children to get to the helpful salespeople in the back of the store... only to find out that the "pick a brick" wall is Lego only - no Duplo. Furthermore, they said they can't request specific cases (they can only sell what they happen to get) and the cases they get are never Duplo blocks. They also didn't sell any baseplates or baseplate-only packs containing anything smaller than 8x8 (5'' square) plates, at least not for Duplos.
Is there a way I've missed to buy specific and/or bulk Duplo bricks directly from Lego (or "unofficial" Lego sites)? Scouring Ebay only seems to produce large mixed lots or people who charge absurd prices for very small quantities of specific larger bricks.
As a note, my first attempt at buying building blocks to create toys for my gliders was a Mega Bloks purchase... and I'm sure anyone who's ever tried that brand knows exactly why I returned them to the store after 10-15 minutes of absurd frustration. While I'm a natural skeptic when it comes to name-brand loyalty, I'm 100% sold on Lego Duplos. If what I want isn't possible with Duplos, I'll be happy with that answer and continue making do with what I've got - I'm not willing to try another knock-off brand.
One other question regarding base-plates - I purchased two of the Green LEGO® DUPLO® Baseplates (Item: 2304, 15'' x 15'') and noticed they're made with a very thin plastic (like the large baseplates for the "normal" sized Legos) rather than the very thick plastic of smaller Duplo plates (like the 5'' square/5''x10'' rectangle plates). The thinner plastic immediately made me think of my dremel's cutting wheel... has anyone here tried cutting those into smaller sizes, and if so, did it work out ok? I've got no problem ghetto-rigging smaller plates to suit my needs if that's a viable option!
Edit: just to clarify, since I don't have enough reputation yet to comment on responses, I live in Houston, TX... are there still local groups I could look into? Also, the closest full-fledged Lego store here apologetically informed me that they couldn't actually order a specific case of anything, let alone Duplo blocks. I was also unable to find a way to order specific Duplo blocks from Lego.com (though I found lots of options for regular Legos)... have I overlooked something?