Support Your Local Dive Shop, BUT…

Support Your Local Dive Shop, BUT… 

How does your local dive shop service measure up against Amazon? There is some controversy in the scuba industry about going to Amazon and other e-commerce sites for scuba gear, over supporting local brick-and-mortar dive shops. 

Is Amazon bad for brick-and-mortar scuba retail?

The short answer is no. In general, consumers are more educated than they have been in the past, giving them the power to make changes in the retail world. Now, businesses that change and move with the times are those that will be most successful. Those that stick with more traditional business processes most likely won’t survive. 

Traditionally brick-and-mortar retail chains that have embraced the digital age offer new services, such as:

  • In-store pickup 
  • Strong e-commerce platforms 
  • Curbside delivery 

With these channels in place, they can continue to expand their operations. 

Let’s apply this to scuba retail

First of all, the two things about a local dive shop that you can’t supplement with Amazon are

  • You can’t fill your cylinders online
  • The in-person conversations you can have with other divers 
  • You can walk in, and walk out with the item you need (if they have it!)

While it’s important to support local, brick and mortar dive shops, this shouldn’t mean blind loyalty to a center purely based on close location, especially if they haven’t evolved with the changes in the scuba retail world. 

Some dive shops are taking advantage of Amazon by using it as a platform to offer customers a better experience while reaching a broader audience. In this case, maybe you need a specific scuba mask. If you find it from a dive center that is in a different state from you, you not only support a local shop, but are able to tap into the convenience that Amazon provides. 

Amazon has forced retailers in all sectors to up their game, and scuba is no exception! Dive shops can no longer afford: 

  • Bad customer service, because Amazon has good customer service
  • Employees who know nothing about the products, because customers can easily research reviews, specs, and comparative prices all from their phone.
  • Low inventory or out-of-date inventory information
  • A generally sloppy online presence

Most customer journeys today start on a digital platform, so if a dive shop has no e-commerce platform, up-to-date inventory, or searchability, they are already losing the battle. Absolutely support your local dive shop, but within reason. Make sure that you are choosing a dive shop that offers you value beyond the convenience and price of Amazon. 

Make sure to also check out our 5 easy steps for finding a dive center you’ll love!

 

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SEE THE PRODUCTS FEATURED IN THIS VIDEO!

See our specific products used in the links above, and for a full list of the gear James keep in his dive bag, see his Gear List.
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Meet James Blackman

With a career in diving spanning twenty years, James has seen a thing or two in the dive industry. James grew up on the Southwest coast of Britain and learned to dive in the frigid waters of the English Channel. If your first dives were like being placed in a cocktail shaker full of cabbage soup and you come away with a love for the sport, then you know it’s going to be a life-long pursuit.

James spent his twenties in the British merchant marine which afforded him the opportunity to travel to and dive in far flung locales… 177 countries and counting. Between stints onboard a variety of vessels, James used his shore leaves to level up his scuba training… Rescue diver in Tanzania, DM in Indonesia, Instructor in Honduras, Tec Instructor in the French West Indies.

His last ship before moving to a shore-based life style was an expedition ship where he notched up some of his most impressive dives, including briefly holding the world record for most northerly scuba dive… 82 degrees north in the Russian arctic; diving the Amazon river; the Antarctic; and virgin reef systems in Papua New Guinea and Melanesia.

Moving ashore in his early thirties, James took on the role of General Manager for a luxury dive operator in St Martin and never had a dull moment! Hollywood visited the island and called upon James’ underwater skills for on-set safety. When Cat-3 hurricane Gonzalo devastated the area, James switched hats to salvage and public safety diver to help with the recovery.

Scuba Diving has given so much to James in his life… and first on that list is his brilliant wife Karina whom he met whilst teaching her AOW class! Yes, that old cliché! James and Karina are also business partners and co-owners of two power-house scuba brands. Miami Technical Diving has become the premiere scuba training facility in South Florida. Tired of seeing other dive shops compete in a ‘race to the bottom,’ James decided his model for teaching scuba would focus on keeping the quality as high as possible; using the best gear possible; teaching beyond the minimum standards on a 1-to-1 student-to-instructor ratio. The fullness of the MTD training calendar shows that people – student divers – prefer to receive premium, quality tuition, as opposed to cheap and fast.

James is the personality and knowledge broker behind ‘Divers Ready!’ a super influential Scuba Diving YouTube channelwebsite and brand. In just a year, Divers Ready! has become the fastest growing You Tube channel in the Scuba Diving niche, with 1000s of new divers joining every month. Their weekly videos range from Mouthpiece Mondays – where James shares his insider knowledge and opinions about controversial topics in the dive industry – to practical ‘hints & tutorial’ style videos, all with one simple goal in mind – to make you a better diver!

James and Karina started small group luxury dive trips for the Divers Ready! audience.

James and Karina live in Miami, FL with their rambunctious dogs; Ziggy The Husky and Bonham the Mutt, and their Maine Coon cat Foxy, who remains unimpressed.