My experience tells me that:
Sometimes when a shop doesn't want the job, they will throw a scare-em-away price at you to drive you off. It usually is nothing personal, just that they see the job as more trouble than it is worth;
A restoration shop is not the place to go if you want a "Driver" quality paint job;
A restoration shop builds its reputation painting trophy winning show cars and will generally not risk its hard earned reputation doing anything less;
The labor to properly prep a car for paint can be staggering and labor is the single largest line item in a repaint budget;
Minimum wage in a number of areas hovers between $10.00/hr and $15.00/ hr, for an apprentice level body shop helper. Who do you think pays for that minimum wage?
Higher quality paint and materials can be very expensive. Yesterday I was at my local automotive paint store and the guy behind the counter was quoting materials costs for another customer. The numbers for epoxy primer, base coat/clear coat, and reducer exceeded $1400 and he was still adding other consumables (sand paper, scotch brite pads, tape, masking paper, etc when I turned my attention away;
Do NOT automatically discount the quality of a MAACO job. Over the past several years, I have had MAACO do two project cars for me. Granted, neither car required much hammer and dolly work, neither car needed rust repair, and both cars were delivered to the paint shop without glass, trim, interiors or powertrains. I am fortunate that my local MAACO franchisee loves doing the older cars even though his bread and butter work is collision repair of more modern cars;
Here's a link to the '68 convertible I freshened up several years ago: 68 S CODE 390 CONV
Note that a since that car left my driveway, additional efforts to take the car to the next level were lavished on it but, as far as i can tell, the paint is the same $2500 MAACO job that I put on it.
The car in my sig pic below was done at a small 3 man collision shop more than a dozen years ago, long before I learned of my local MAACO option. The agreed quality standard of that job was based upon a car that this painter had done for a mutual friend of ours and was in my mind, a high level driver paint job. Cost then, $7500. Incidentally, I got an even better quality paint job than I paid for and every compliment I received confirmed my impression.
Low cost paint jobs include low cost paint supplies and sometimes even a paint roller !! Seriously, several years ago some guy used a non-automotive self-leveling paint product to roll paint onto a Dodge Charger. Considerable hand sanding between coats was required but the end product was acceptable to the owner. Here's a youtube link to the process: