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Have You Outgrown Your Dive Shop?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Trace Malinowski, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. Colliam7

    Colliam7 Tech Instructor Staff Member

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Kents Store, VA

    This thread provides an interesting parallel to stuartv"s thread on gear purchases.
    I have been associated with 3 shops in my 'career'.

    I grew up in the first shop - did my OW, AOW, various additional training, DM, AI, Instructor, tech. The owner became a close personal friend, instructor for some of my training, dive buddy, mentor, travelling companion. In that shop I felt that my personal growth was both strongly encouraged, and facilitated. The owner was as interested in new gear, even different brands (from what we carried), as I was. I think I am a pretty good instructor - he was better, and I was always learning something from being associated with him, and the other staff. We had a staff of some 20 instructors and DMs that were simply great. We were regularly sharing ideas, asking 'What if', looking for new techniques for training, etc. People would drop by the shop at lunchtime, or on their way home from their day job, simply to visit with each other. It was Camelot. Then, the owner died suddenly of a MI at age 44, the shop closed 3 months later, and Camelot was no more. I don't know how I could ever have outgrown that environment. We always seemed to be talking about the next initiative, the next adventure, the next rung on whatever ladder, to climb. I still run into some of those staff colleagues at our local quarry / training site. And, we still do the same thing - 'Have you heard about X? I am thinking of trying it' What are you doing to help students learn Y?' We introduce each other to our respective students, we kid about being part of a cult.

    My second shop has been friendly, I like the retail staff, I have been treated well. There is really no particular growth opportunity for me, except what I find outside, on my own. I haven't learned much from others there. There have been no hassles about what I do outside, but no encouragement / recognition either. Working there has primarily been convenient, almost too comfortable, and not developmental by any means. Have I outgrown it? Yes. I had probably outgrown it by the time I started. That is not a statement of arrogance or conceit by any means. It is reality.

    I have now associated with a third shop, as part of a move to an adjoining state. The owner is encouraging staff to develop, in order to expand the shop's offerings - a win-win proposition from my perspective. Of the 3 shops, this one has the most limited breadth and volume of activity - training / travel / sales. I think there are things to learn but time will tell.

    I haven't really been in a position where I felt somehow that seeking information and education beyond the shop was viewed negatively, or felt ostracized, or the target of criticism and gossip, because of my desire to continue to expand. But, maybe, I am clueless and just didn't notice.
  2. Trace Malinowski

    Trace Malinowski Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Alexandria Bay, NY
    Sorry about the loss of Camelot. I know what you mean. For all of the crap I got once I spread my wings as a diver and grew beyond PDIC HQ, the atmosphere of the retail shop at PDIC was a lot like you describe. It was the place to hang out, watch diving movies, and the owners were always interested in doing things better. I was becoming more interested in tech diving which was beyond their interests. Technical diving at the time was the wild west. Most tech divers looked like Christmas trees. PDIC had turned down the instructors who founded GUE who wanted to bring technical diving to PDIC. They were ignorant of what was happening in cave diving at the time. Three worlds were colliding. Their old-fashioned world of the Sea Hunt era was running parallel to the PADI idea of modularity and "everyone should be a diver." These two recreational worlds were just ignoring a growing technical community. My instructor, Frank Murphy, had been a WW II paratrooper and started diving before Lloyd Bridges pretended to be Mike Nelson. Frank's wife, Doris, was a serious old-time aquatics director of several YMCA's and YWCA's. She believed in lap swimming and rigorous survival and rescue skills. PDIC was more in tune with trying to bring the style and quality of L.A. County scuba training to a 7 to 10 day course. If @Sam Miller III had moved east, I'm sure he and Frank would have hit it off nicely. They finally realized that the instructors that were know-nothing kids had become 30-something world-class tech and cave divers. But, something was always missing. Looking back, what was gone was simply the golden age of diving. Sure. We maneuver better underwater today than our heroes of the past. Technology has improved. I can't imagine not having my Shearwater and having to dive rigid tables rather than selecting gradient factors or switching between Buhlmann and bubble models, but it seems like I've lost the Camelot that was PDIC and even the Camelot that was scuba diving.
  3. sigxbill

    sigxbill Tech Instructor

    I never had a Camelot, but was always searching for one. I gave each shop the benefit of the doubt. The first was a well organized machine, but when I realized they could never help me achieve anything advanced, I had to move on. Just for the record, I don't consider Rescue or OW Instructor advanced.

    My next two shops were advanced and helped me achieve my goals at the time, but since they didn't keep up on new skills, I outgrew them.

    My most recent attempt at Camelot is a shop where I am an instructor on staff. I don't feel like my shop encourages my personal growth. The problem is that the owner became a tech instructor trainer right around the same time the DIR movement started, didn't choose DIR. The only reason I mention that is because back then, if you weren't DIR, you were Wild West! Since then a number of DIR elements have become pretty standard in quality tech training - and even some rec training. So my point is that this owner is still teaching Wild West style and hasn't updated his skills. Additionally, his prescribed equipment line and configuration are rigid, and suggesting anything outside of his ecosystem is frowned upon. So basically unless one is extolling the benefits of how he teaches and outfits his students - which there are very few benefits - I basically can't talk diving with anyone in the shop.

    This combination I see as discouraging my personal growth. I am the talent that doesn't get utilized. I think I have outgrown this situation ...
  4. Solotor

    Solotor Angel Fish

    Yes and yes. Incidentally, the shop just went out of business the other week.

    But since I know bad "shop-culture" from other hobbyist area of interests, when I took up diving I made sure not to get "into it" from the start, so I'm fine doing my own s***.
    Trace Malinowski likes this.
  5. jadairiii

    jadairiii Solo Diver

    Other than the odd fills from different shops over the years I’ve been pretty lucky, the shop that I took my original certification from is still going strong (3rd owner) but all 3 owners have been great. We are talking almost 40 years now. As I got into tec diving, an area they have never pushed, they supported me and ordered those items they didn’t stock. I was not the only one the shop supported, they also ordered items and did fills for some of the original “big name” tec/cave guys from the mid-90’s. Although they would roll their eyes at times….. I still go there for just about everything other than specific cave stuff.

    As for a “tec shop”, I used to hang out and do all my early tec diving through Ocean Diving in Pompano. That was a wild west shop! Did my early tech training from them also in the early 90’s. Those were some crazy fun times, never a dull moment on the Reef Cat.
    Trace Malinowski likes this.
  6. Aloha Joe

    Aloha Joe Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Honolulu, HI
    My first rig is a BP/W so I feel like I outgrew most dive shops before I ever breathed underwater.
  7. Reku

    Reku Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Great Lakes + Northern Florida + Marsh Harbor
    When I was living in FL full time I never had to worry about out growing my shop. Now that I am back in Michigan - land of amazing wrecks with zero tech infrastructure. I've setup a booster for my rb bottle o2 and a small compressor. It's better than driving an hour 1 way to get o2 and stand there for an hour while they fill it and then pay $40 for it and then drive home. Trimix is an hour away as well. My new LDS is the local welding gas supplier.
    grantwiscour and rhwestfall like this.
  8. rsingler

    rsingler Scuba Instructor, Tinkerer in Brass Staff Member ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Napa, California
    @Reku , I wouldn't think of accusing you of advocating unsafe diving practices, given your experience. But since this is the Basic Forum, let me just add a caveat to what you said. I am NOT criticizing you.
    Yes, it's possible to mix your own gas. But to say "My new LDS is the local welding gas supplier" omits ALL the other considerations which you addressed before you personally chose them to supply your O2 and/or He. Is it "O2 clean"? (a topic beyond Basic Forum-level) Is it completely dehumidified? Is it pure? Does your welding shop fill varied orders such that trace fill whip gasses of other types like acetylene (which may not matter to a welder) are now in your breathing gas?
    For those reading the Basic Forum for basic scuba topics, this poster has advocated a practice which may well be safe, is certainly convenient, and is less expensive for him. But making such a choice requires significant training and experience. And for the record, buying "a booster...and a small compressor" is not an inexpensive undertaking. Caveat emptor.
    TooManyHobbies likes this.
  9. MaxBottomtime

    MaxBottomtime Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    I have two shops I deal with. One ten miles away has excellent tech gear, provides mixed gas, plenty of stock and knowledgeable employees. Unfortunately, if you want nitrox or mixed gas you have to leave your tanks for a few days.

    The other shop is two blocks from my boat. It has nitrox banked and I can usually fill several tanks in about fifteen minutes or less. Sometimes the banks are low so I leave my tanks but it's no real inconvenience to pick them up later since they are so close. Their scuba gear selection is mostly beginner crap and very overpriced. The store is 95% clothing, 5% surf and 5% scuba. I get my nitrox there and gear at the other shop.
  10. happy-diver

    happy-diver Skindiver Just feelin it ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: same ocean as you

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