Scuba Supermarket - The Dive Shop

A dive shop, by definition, is a place where a diver can go and buy scuba stuff.

There was a point in my life when I didn’t know what a scuba shop looked like; that of course is now a hazy memory stashed alongside numerous nights in the pub.


My preconceptions of a dive shop, in hindsight, are rather amusing.


I imagined walking into a humongous Tesco-type supermarket; but rather than displaying cold meat, cheese and fried chicken, it would contain isle upon isle of scuba gear.

I envisioned shelves of dive computers, rails of drysuits, regulators dripping from the ceiling, boxes of boots, hangers of BCD’s, and a whole section dedicated to masks; an underwater opticians of sorts.

As with Tesco, I decided I would be awarded a loyalty card upon entry, preloaded with scuba points; ready to receive my first discount on a Suunto D9.



The first dive shop I visited was ever so slightly different.



My instructor didn’t have a shop (long story - we'll save it for another post), so I resorted to the phone book to find one nearby; Sam’s Scuba Store was top of the list.

Google maps told me all I needed to know; and as we have previously established, not only does the mighty Google know what we want, but also how to get us there.



I planned my first visit to Sam’s Scuba Store with great enthusiasm and allocated an entire day for the affair.



I explained to the Sat Nav where I wanted to go; which is a fruitless task as my Sat Nav is a lying bastard, consistently deciding to take me elsewhere. I can’t determine if the unit enjoys my driving, the countryside or simply taking the piss; either way it took us 20 minutes longer to get there than Google predicted.



I suspect Google will kill my Sat Nav.



Destination on right” squawked the small bionic woman on the dashboard.



As per usual, the Sat Nav was lying. I stared out the car window and was simply greeted by a fence, a gnome, a front door and the back end of a dusty, mid-priced saloon; no huge scuba supermarket.




As I weighed up my options I noticed a scuba cylinder in the driveway. Closer inspection of the house revealed a piece of compressor in a flower pot, a mask strap lay dying on a paving slab, and a single jet fin was attempting a bid for freedom over the fence.



Sam’s Scuba Shop was actually Sam’s Fucking House.

Sam was a lying bastard.

Sam didn’t own a scuba shop.



Nevertheless, I was there and figured I may as well investigate.



I wandered up the path, which was more of a scuba graveyard, and finally noticed the garage door had “S m’s S uba S op” etched onto it with black marker.



What followed was a scene from a horror movie.



I gingerly leaned against the door as it whined in protest…



Hello?



Sam?



Nothing.



I moved slowly into the gloom, and as the light faded I could make out a faint drilling sound.


Christ the night. 


I pondered if Sam had been murdered; and at that moment some psycho scuba hater was chopping him into small pieces, slowly stuffing the remains into a mask box. 


Venturing towards the rear of the garage I was slowly engulfed in darkness, but could see strands of light pushing through a cobwebbed window on the far wall.

The shards of light fell onto a large human figure, looming over an intimidating contraption, evidently producing the whirring noise.



Sam?




My voice quivered and I barked a little louder;



SAM!



The figure span on his feet, slipped into a spasm, and promptly backed into the corner of the garage.



Holy shit.



As the man recoiled he backed into a heap of dry suits. He stumbled, tripped, and finally fell awkwardly on top of  them. In an attempt to right himself, his hands landed on more neoprene; which resulted in a further cascade of rubber garments.


He was burying himself in dry suits.

Alive.


At that point I lost the fear, as it was quickly being replaced by the urge to laugh out loud; it was overwhelming.



I stepped forward with a hand outstretched in a meagre gesture of help.



As my hand hung in limbo, the dry suits slowly carpeted the ground; finally giving the figure a solid footing to heave his sulking frame from the deck.



Sam?



Christ the night.



Sam got himself to his feet and brushed himself down as if nothing had happened; the way a child would attempt to hide their embarrassment after going over the handle bars on their BMX.

He failed miserably; confirmed by his reddening neck line.





Sam: “Uh, what you want?”

Me: “I’m a diver. I wanted to look around your… eh …. garage?”

Sam: “But what do you want?”



By that stage I was petrified I may end up inside a mask box, so I quickly blurted



Me: “I want a drysuit hose!”



Despite my sudden enthusiasm, I didn’t need a drysuit hose. I already had 2 drysuit hoses. We walked to the ‘front’ of the shop and he grimly handed me a hose.



Sam: “Twenty pounds”

Me: “Great, do you take credit card?”



Judging by his facial expression to the question, I was concerned I had inadvertently asked him for sex up the wrong’un.



Me: “Em … actually, I have cash. It’s fine.”



I handed over the cash for my 3rd drysuit hose; no bag, no receipt, no thanks.



I concluded that my visit to Sam’s Scuba Shop was over. I attempted to browse the scuba delights on offer, but merely caught a glimpse of a set of Cressi regulators that Moses may have left in for a service.


I thanked Sam, wished him safe diving, and left twenty pounds poorer; trailing my drysuit hose behind me.



I visited Sam’s Scuba Shop on a few more occasions to get air, but by the 3rd visit his prices had escalated so much I simply couldn’t do it any longer.

He also seemed dreadfully upset I was taking his precious air from him; not to mention that I had to telephone in advance to confirm availability.


Air is everywhere; he had a compressor - what was the problem?



I returned to Google and was re-directed to another store a substantial distance away.



I don’t resent a single mile.



My new shop is awesome: 


  • Nitrox up to 32% is always available

  • If I call in advance they can make sure they have richer mixes.

  • Staff are super friendly, mostly young(er) and extremely enthusiastic

  • The shop, although small, has stock relevant to this decade

  • The tech guy can service 90% of my gear

  • They will talk scuba all day, yet not preach or declare omnipotence

  • I get a cup of tea and a biscuit 


All these things, and more, are critical to the success of a dive shop and it baffles me how some ‘business men’ run their stores.

I appreciate the scuba industry is a niche market, but if you CHOOSE to become involved, make an effort – your livelihood will depend on your attitude.


Do you enjoy visiting your dive shop?

5 comments:

  1. Why thank you kind sir.

    I am to a great degree, mostly awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Haha.. fantastic article... I know what you mean! Not quite to the extent that you experienced, but I had similar trying to find a scuba store in New York... grumpy, teetering on rude shop assistants with no desire to actually help me out at all :(

    I did eventually, like you, find an awesome scuba store there too... right in the middle of Manhattan. What a contrast.

    ReplyDelete
  3. No way! A scuba store in New York sounds tremendous - how could that be so bad! I thought the US was all about customer service and all that crap? Huh.

    I still can't believe shops can be so bad, considering how tiny the niche market is.

    It really does baffle me???

    I would like to see a scuba store in Manhattan too, i'm imagining scuba meets Sex and the City... :D

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is incredible! Thanks for the share!..

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.