Originally Posted by bright eyed
But i have also seen a few reference "opened an account through Vanguard" but also saw references to paying the broker fee to do it directly (and can you do that online or go to a b&m somewhere?).
Go to www.vanguard.com
Under "Personal Investors" in middle of page click on "Go to the site"
Near the top of that page click on "Open an Account"
The forms and info you need to open an account directly are accessible form that page.
To just invest directly in VG mutual funds (not ETFs, which I don't know about), there should be no broker fees or loads. Depending on balances, funds and type of account, there may be some small fees. For example, Roth IRAs with less that $5K balance have a $10 annual account maintenance fee. Most index funds with less than $10K balance have a $10 maintenance fee. There is a "What fees are there" item on the FAQ on the above page.
Many fees are waived for Flagship (high account balance) customers.
I don't see any reason to hold Vanguard mutual funds indirectly through another brokerage, etc., unless perhaps you are getting some broader combined portfolio reporting or analyses or similar services from them, and unless it isn't costing you anything to do so.
Vanguard also has brokerage accounts, through which I imagine you could do other fund families, ETFs, individual securities, etc., though I have no experince with that.