Choosing A Dive Shop


Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D.

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During the 2005 DEMA show, I attended a DEMA-sponsored seminar on dive shop marketing. The lecture  was given by someone involved in the Marlboro cigarette campaign (one of the most successful American marketing efforts in history ... an ad campaign  that made the cigarette logo (and song) a world-recognized trademark). This speaker emphasized that for divers. the single most important selection criteria in choosing to return to a  particular dive shop was  "confidence" ... a belief in the shop's staff, education, travel packages, and equipment.

As I walked away from this talk, I remembered what I tell my students when asked the inevitable question about how to choose a dive shop.  My "confidence" test boils down to a single question.

First of all, I am a strong believer in the philosophy of "Support your local dive shop" 'cause they are the people that will replace your torn mask or broken  fin strap you discover while packing for some new exciting diving adventure,  tune your regulators for peak performance, inspect your cylinders, and, of course, provide the breathing gas consumed on every dive.  Whenever possible, I believe it is best to choose a single shop and do most of your dive purchases at this one place. After all, shop owners are human and therefore, will recognize and appreciate steady customers. However, dive shops are franchise operations and, as such,  no single dive shop can provide the absolute best possible solution for every diver in every mode of diving done in a variety of environments. So, visit as many as possible stores to get a sense of their inventory and areas of expertise. Then, choose the one that is the best match for your individual needs as your primary diving resource.

As you walk into a dive shop on your first visit, remember that you do NOT breathe water and, as such, your life is at risk every time you descend into the waters of Planet Ocean. In essence, you are betting your life, as well as your money, on your choices for diving equipment, service, and education. With that in mind, this is  my suggestion for evaluating "confidence" in a dive shop:

As you exit the shop, immediately ask yourself, "Was that shop's primary concern me, or my money?"

The answer to this question determines my future visits and purchases.

If a shop seems interested only in the size of my wallet, then I seldom, if ever, return.

However, if the dive operation seems to be concerned about  my interests in exploring a lifetime of opportunity for a totally unique and thrilling adventure in Planet Ocean, then I go back ... again and again.

Life is full of choices and choosing a dive shop is no different from many other choices that may affect long term behavior. In all such choices, as a knight from the Indiana Jones movie, Lost Crusade, advised, "Choose wisely." 


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About The Author: 

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and Diving Safety Coordinator at the University of Michigan. He has authored more than 200 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered one of the best recreational sources of information In North America.

  Copyright 2001-2024 by Larry "Harris" Taylor

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Use of these articles for personal or organizational profit is specifically denied.

These articles may be used for not-for-profit diving education