It took quite a bit of convincing to my boyfriend that a dog is worth over $1000, maybe even over $2000... now as a doctor, he insists we use a breeder so we can be sure that health testing was done. I am also a firm believer in meeting the parents...
I'm glad to hear you are making progress to convince your boyfriend about the realistic cost of buying a well bred puppy from an ethical/reputable breeder. I think you should definitely be able to get a "pet quality" dog from a reputable breeder for $1500-2000 in the tri state area. Although having researched breeders and buying a puppy a few years ago in that area, I suspect you will be more toward the 2k range.
There is a good thread on DT about what it truly costs to breed and raise a litter - that might be a good one to show your boyfriend too!
You mentioned wanting to meet both parents... In terms of meeting both parents, it's not highly likely that a breeder will have both the bitch and stud onsite. In fact, reputable breeders work very, very hard to find the right stud dog that will complement their bitch (in terms of pedigrees, health, conformation, temperament, etc), and often times that stud will be from a different breeder. Not to say there are not reputable breeders who breed their own stud to one of their bitches for valild reasons, but it's something to keep an eye out for.
Also, I totally agree with the poster above (sorry forgot who it was) but litters will have a range of puppies - some show quality and others pet quality, ie if it's a breeder who focuses on breeding dogs for breed ring/conformation. Don't rule out show line breeders just because you don't want a "show dog". They will also have varying levels of drive in litter.
A good breeder will do their best to understand what their puppy buyers are seeking, their lifestyle, etc and will match the right puppy to that prospective buyer. Puppy buyers do not typically get to pick which puppy they want. The breeder knows the puppies in the litter and will have the best ability match puppies so there is the highest chance of success in their new home, factoring in of course the preferences (breed, color, temperament, lifestyle, etc) of the puppy buyer. Just wanted to mention that because a lot of times people think they are going to get to pic which puppy they will get...